In the early nineteenth century, the health of Marseille’s people was threatened by the income of yellow fever, coming in from South America via Spain. They decided to construct a quarantine hospital on the small islands just off the coast. The location was chosen so that suspected boats could be stopped before arrival in Marseille, and also to benefit from the wind in this area that could be used to “blow away the germs”.
L’Hôpital Caroline, designed by architect Michel-Robert Penchaud, opened officially in 1828. A stately Greek temple sat in the middle of the hospital complex, allowing quarantined patients to listen to services without leaving their ventilated accommodation. A sister temple was built in the harbour, so that those arriving could participate without even leaving their boats.
The hospital was severely damaged by bombing towards the end of World War 2. Renovation is taking place slowly, but was not readily accessible on my visit. The accompanying chapel, however, has been partly rebuilt and is easily visible from the harbour area.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 12 September 2016
Part of After and Before