Santa Maria della Scala

Santa Maria della Scala is a former hospital in Siena, Italy, which is now a museum.

The hospital was dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick, and pilgrims and is one of the oldest hospitals in the world.

The hospital gets its name from the Piazza Del Duomo from Siena Cathedral. Santa Maria della Scala refers to its position across from the steps that lead to the Cathedral.

Pilgrims Hall is the main hall where pilgrims were lodged. It also served as a location for public festivities. In the 1330s, Santa Maria della Scala commissioned many important interior and exterior frescoes as well as several altar pieces. While exterior frescoes no longer exist, interior frescoes have survived for centuries. The majority were alter pieces that were created after the Black Death. The principal artist is Bartolommeo Bulgarini.

Around 1335, the church commissioned a series of frescoes depicting the life of the Virgin. The scenes were chosen both to honor Mary and to also give recognition to her parents, Saints Joachim and Anne, the subjects of special devotion at the hospital during the 1320s and 1330s. The scenes became a valuable model for iconography.