Ca’ Granda is the name of the old hospital of Milan. Today it serves as the central seat of the city’s University. After being severely damaged during the Second World War, it was reconstructed as faithfully as possible to the original. Under the title “The Treasures of Ca’ Granda” there is also an exhibition in Milan dedicated partly to the hospital itself, and partly to the history of medicine.
Ca’ Granda Milan
The address of the Ca’ Granda is Via Festa del Perdono, 5 – 20122 Milano (tel. +39 02503111). Streetcar: 12, 15, 23, 27. Bus: 54, 77, 94, N15, NM1, NM3. Opening hours: Unknown. Entrance fee: Free. The entrance for the exhibition I Tesori della Ca’ Granda is at Via Francesco Sforza, 28 (tel. +39 02 55038278).
Construction of the Ca’ Granda, which was commissioned by Francesco Sforza, began in 1456. The designer was Antonio Averulino (nicknamed Filarete) and construction was to be carried out by Guiniforte Solari and his pupil Giovanni Antonio Amadeo.
The intention of Sforza and his wife Bianca Maria was to unite all the small hospitals of Milan under one roof so that the sick could be cured more easily.
In gratitude, Pope Pius IV proclaimed an indulgence in 1559 and declared March 25 a special holiday, the Festa dell’Annunciata (the patron saint of the hospital), to be celebrated every two years.
Later, the central part and (between 1797 and 1804, according to a project by Pietro Castelli) left wing were added. This was done with the help of wealthy Milanese, all of whom wanted to contribute to the construction of the hospital.
In 1930 the Ca’ Granda, which had been severely damaged during the war, became the the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Milan. Its restoration (1953) tried to follow the original project as closely as possible.
What to see
The plaster model of the statue of Sant’Ambrogio created by Adolfo Wildt under the portico of the central courtyard, the bronze original of which can be seen at the entrance to the Sacrario dei Caduti near Piazza Sant’Ambrogio.
The Treasures of Ca’ Granda
The first part of the exhibition “The Treasures of Ca’ Granda” deals with the history of medicine. Each room is dedicated to a particular discipline (obstetrics, gynaecology, radiology, transfusion, etc.). In addition to the medical instruments, portraits of famous doctors and inventors of these instruments are on display.
The rest of the exhibition includes portraits of benefactors of the Ca’ Grande. In 1602, the hospital itself commissioned the first portrait of someone who had donated a generous donation. Over the centuries this tradition has been maintained and there are now 920 paintings, 20 of which are on display. Some of these artworks were done by famous painters like Hayez and Sironi. The last portraits were painted by the best students of the Academy of Fine Arts of Brera.
A display case in the atrium of the Administrative Building holds the Gonfalone d’Onore (“Ensign of Honor”). Designed in 1935 by the famous artist Gio Ponti, it is used only during funerals of benefactors and at important events.