Santa Maria della Scala
Santa Maria della Scala is a former hospital, now turned into a museum complex, in Siena, Tuscany, Italy. Located next to the city's cathedral, it is one of the most ancient European hospitals.
The hospital was founded by the Cathedral's priests across the Via Francigena to house the pilgrims coming from France and northern Europe to Rome. It also performed charitable work for the poor, including an orphanage for abandoned children. In the 15th century it became under the responsibility of the city's commune, receiving numerous donations from the local wealthiest families. It also received important artistic works: these include a famous fresco cycle (now lost) with Histories of the Virgin, on the façade, by Simone Martini, Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti (1335); the series of frescoes with the Stories of the Hospital in the Pellegrinaio Hall, by Domenico di Bartolo, Lorenzo Vecchietta and Priamo della Quercia; the old sacristy, also decorated by Vecchietta; the Manto Chapel, with a lunette by Domenico Beccafumi; the 15th Fonta Gaia by Jacopo della Quercia; and the decoration of the large apse by Sebastiano Conca (late 18th century).