Friday, May 1, 2009

The Hôpital St Louis

The Hôpital St Loius was built at the beginning of the 17th century in a similar style to the much better known Place des Vosges. It was built just outside the ancient city walls as it was designed to keep victims of infectious diseases away from other inhabitants of Paris.

It was Henri IV who ordered the construction of the hospital, but he was assasinated by Ravaillac before the edifice was finished, and it was finally opened in 1618 during an outbreak of the plague. Its necessity was shown by the fact that it had to put up to six patients in the same bed! For the next two centuries it dealt with many outbreaks of infectious diseases, slowly building up world-renown in the field of Dermatology. This has led to another curiousity in the hospital, perhaps the most unusual and secretive museum in Paris, the Musee des Moulages (Museum of Masks).

It is a mixture of brick and stone, designed in a manner which was relatively common in the 17th century. It is believed that the architect was Claude Vellefaux, but this is not certain. Still in operation as a hospital today, the site can nevertheless be visited, and indeed makes for a very relaxing pause in the city.

Built in quadrangle form, the bricks appear mostly as splashes of colour on the first and second floors. The entire structure was renovated in the last twenty years, making the bricks appear to be almost new. To see older brick forms look up to the twin chimney stacks in the central areas.

Address: 1, Avenue Claude Vellefaux, 75010
Architect: Claude Vellefaux
Year of construction: 1618


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