This part of Rome is called the Borgo Santo Spirito after the Ospedale di Santo Spirito, the oldest hospital in the city.
It dates back to the year 727 when Ina, the Saxon King, had it built in order to offer aid and assistance to pilgrims from his realm. At the first reconstruction in 1204, Pope Innocent III gave it to the Order of the Holy Spirit to manage.
This order was founded in France by Guy de Montpellier.
The hospital was completely restructured by Baccio Pontelli, who was commissioned by Sixtus IV in the 15th
century. Because the pope worked with Pontelli on so many other projects, he became known as the first Renaissance Pope.
The Sistine Ward, a wing that extends into Borgo Santo Spirito for 120 meters, was built in a brick curtain. The portico with its octagonal pillars was walled up in the 17th
century. The octagonal tiburium divides the ward into 2 rooms, the Sala Lancisi and the Sala Baglivi, both covered in frescoes in the 15th
century by Umbrian artists. This center chamber is comprised of alternating double and triple paned windows.
The hospital was conceived as an autonomous civic institution, subject only to the Pope's authority. Following the Liber Regulae, the oldest set of clinical rules that exist, the hospital looked after the sick, the infirm, and the abandoned. The revolving wheel, on which abandoned new-born babies were left, guaranteed anonymity. Although it is the only one still remaining in Rome, it no longer operates.