Altes Spital (Old Hospital)

Solothurn

Stadt Solothurn 3

Stadt Solothurn 3

Solothurn

Solothurn

Stadt Solothurn

Stadt Solothurn

As a hospital, an orphanage or a hostel for craftsmen, Solothurn's Old Hospital has been a venue for people to meet and receive hospitality since it was first mentioned in the 14th century.

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In the period around 1420, there was a lengthy series of conflicts between the church and the citizenry until agreement was reached about the hospital. As well as the sick, the hospital accommodated paupers, orphans, travelling craftsmen, pilgrims and beggars, so it offered both moral and religious support and material assistance. A church was also erected next to the hospital for this reason.

Between 1726 and 1729, dilapidation and shortage of space prompted the construction of a building adjoining the church's western side. From then on, the building was divided into an upper and a lower hospital.

A dedicated institution for orphans was set up in the lower hospital. In 1734, a fire destroyed the church and large sections of the hospital. Following this, the new nurses' home, the new church and the new hospital were built. The church and the hospital were brought under the same roof, which posed some difficult challenges for the master builders of the day. In 1765, the council discussed an enlargement of the hospital. A construction plan was drawn up and the planning was entrusted to architect Antonio Pisoni, one of the master builders of the cathedral of St. Ursus.

The first phase of construction in Pisoni's project was completed between 1784 and 1788. The demolition of adjacent houses created space for a large new wing adjoining the existing section. This was the most important period of construction for the hospital. Following completion of the new workhouse, the prisoners' block and improvements to the overall infrastructure, management of the hospital was handed over to the "Grey Sisters", a women's order.

The great west wing was added during the second phase of construction (1794 to 1800), giving the citizens' hospital its present-day appearance. It was spared from any further fires. From then on, new additions and extensions were limited to the interior of the building.

The construction of the new citizens' hospital in 1930 rendered the "Old Hospital" obsolete, so it was subsequently put to new use. A special commission developed a suitable usage concept in the mid-1970s and in 1984, the west wing was opened as the first part of the Old Hospital Encounter Centre, and the garden restaurant by the river Aare was opened to the public.

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