The Hospital origin
Caroline Hospital Construction
The Caroline Hospital was built on the Ratonneau Island, in the Friul archipelago, known as the heart of Marseille's health protection since the 16th century. This is where the quarantine zone for sailors landing from distant lands was located. However, around 1820, all Mediterranean ports were affected by a yellow fever epidemic. In response to the risk of paralysis of maritime trade, Marseille's real economic source, the State ordered the construction of a dike linking the Pomègues and Ratonneau islands in order to build a new quarantine basin: the Port Dieudonné. In 1822, a project for a health facility was commissioned.
Inaugurated in 1828, the hospital was named Caroline after Caroline of Bourbon Sicily, who was the wife of the Duke of Berry.
The monument's architecture
The architect chosen to lead the project is none other than Michel Robert Penchaud, an architect from Marseille, who designed many public buildings and monuments. Its realization can be considered as a masterpiece because it managed to combine more than a thousand years of architectural history. The Caroline Hospital consists of twelve buildings on 3,500 square meters that can accommodate 48 patients and 24 convalescents. Each building has its own specific function, and patients and convalescents are housed in separate parts, well isolated from each other. In the center, the harbourmaster's office allows you to observe and get to any part of the complex. Finally, the Greek style chapel is central and visible by everyone.
The architecture is a perfect symbol of the neo-classical style, while keeping above all functional ambitions. Each building was built with the most careful consideration and was perfectly adapted to the use for which it was designed. It is called the "Wind Hospital" because it responds to the requirements of the medical profession at the time, which depended on untimely ventilation to eliminate stale air.
Caroline Hospital in History
In 1850, developments in modern navigation and science made this new quarantine zone somewhat obsolete. The complex was then transformed, in 1850, to be incorporated into a "lazaret of islands" with Friuli and Pomegas ports. The project then forms the "lazaret des îles" complex, considered to be the largest and most efficient in the Mediterranean. The hospital remained in operation until 1941, before serving as an ammunition depot for the Germans who occupied the city.
Unfortunately, the site was largely destroyed during the Allied bombings in August 1944. The Caroline Hospital was then abandoned until 1978, when the islands were acquired by the city of Marseille. True vestige of Marseille's history, it has been listed as a Historic Monument since 1980.
Visit Caroline Hospital
A restoration project was launched in 2007. Today, the renovated parts of this monument in Marseille host elements, exhibitions, concerts... If you are planning to visit Marseille, you absolutely must go to the Friuli islands to discover the magnificent view of Marseille from the sea as well as the Caroline Hospital.
The Petit Train de Marseille also offers a tour to discover the islands of Friuli, do not hesitate to go to the ticket office on the Old Port to find out more. And if you are with family or friends, why not opt for segway rental or, more traditional, bike rental!