Lundi Voyages: The Hotel Dieu in Beaune France

4/19/2010 12:00:00 AM ·


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The Hotel Dieu in Beaune France was founded in 1443 by Nicolas Rolin, the chancellor of the dukes of Burgundy, and his wife, Guigone de Salins. Initially, the hospital was established to administer to the poor. It wasn't until 1452 that the Hotel Dieu admitted its first patient on New Years Day.

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Architecturally, the hospital is quite plain from the outside, however if you head inside to the cobbled courtyard, you'll be inspired. The walls are primarily made of timbers, which surprisingly are in a wonderfully preserved state. Those timbers are adorned with tiles, formed into geometric shapes and patterns, and a series of gables are topped with slender apexes.

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Like many 15th century hospitals, there is a covered walkway, or gallery, for the nuns to walk under during inclement weather on their way from room to room.

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The main chamber in the Grande Salle de Povres (Pauper Ward) boasts ornate timber ceilings. Interestingly, the beds are arranged to face the altar so that patients could partake in services. The smaller ward, called the Salle St-Hugues, was for wealthier patients.

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The last patient signed out in 1971, however the hospital has been transformed into a museum, displaying over 500 years of medical care for the poor.

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As a visitor, you won't want to miss a trip to the Salle St-Louis at Hotel Dieu, which houses a huge altarpiece of the Last Judgment by Roger van der Weyden. If you forget your magnified glass to look at the fine details of the artwork, they will be provided on your tour.

Today, the site is run by Hospices de Beaune and its principal fund raising event is an annual wine auction. No surprise for many, as Beaune is the capital of Burgundy's wine region.

Pictures Compliments of BradleyFrome36

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