Barbaria de le Tole, Castello 6691

Complesso dell’Ospedaletto

The “Spedaletto”: one of the four “Ospedali Grandi” in Venice

The “Ospedale dei Derelitti” was built, with provisional nature, in 1527, as a matter of urgency for a terrible famine which sowed poverty and death on the Venetian countryside. The destitute and ill, young and old, people who poured into the City from the mainland, were hosted into simple huts built in this suburban area of Venice.

These early wooden dwellings few years later were substituted by solid stone buildings: first the wards were erected – which were divided among men, women and young orphans – followed by the church, designed by Andrea Palladio and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Facciata Chiesa Ospedaletto
Cortile nel Complesso dell Ospedaletto Gioielli Nascosti di Venezia

During the seventeenth century the Ospedale had a successful period thanks to the considerable bequest left by the haberdasher Bartolomeo Cargnoni, by which a restoration of the building began, culminated with the creation of the elliptical staircase by the Ticinese architect Giuseppe Sardi (1664-1666).

Within this ambitious work of renovation, Baldassare Longhena, who succeeded Sardi, designed the extravagant baroque façade of the church, enriching the religious building interior with a new main altar; at the same time he designed a new loggia, inside the hospital complex, connecting the inner spaces to the Corte delle “Quattro Stagioni” [Yard of the “Four Seasons”]: an open space made thanks to the demolition of the sixteenth century decaying buildings, where the young female guests could spend leisure time.

From the second half of the XVII century, a succession of interventions, lasting until the beginning of the XX century and favoured by generous benefactors’ legacies, allowed to embellish the church with altars, statues, paintings and frescos signed by important artists such as, among others, Giovan Battista Tiepolo, Carl Loth, Pietro Liberi, Antonio Molinari, Andrea Celesti, Tommaso Ruer and Giuseppe Cherubini, who in 1905 realized the ceiling of the church following both eighteenth-century tradition and Belle Époque style.

The church of Santa Maria dei Derelitti was famous – as those of the other “Ospedali Grandi” in Venice – for the performance of choirs by the orphan young girls educated in music by valiant teachers. The organ of the 1751 signed by Pietro Nacchini, and the music hall – last late eighteenth century addition to the complex – frescoed by Jacopo Guarana and Agostino Mengozzi Colonna, are the tangible proof of this great musical tradition.

Visit Complesso dell’Ospedaletto

Don’t miss one of Venice’s most beautiful and spectacular monuments, a unique jewel off the classic tourist routes.

Visits to the Ospedaletto Complex are by reservation only. Let us know the date and the number of people you would like to come and we will get back to you as soon as possible with all the information you need.

Current Exhibitions

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Visits to the Complesso dell’Ospedaletto are by reservation only. Fill out the contact form giving us the details of the visit you wish to make.

Complesso dell'Ospedaletto

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