Hopital Notre-Dame à la Rose – Lessines, Belgium - Atlas Obscura
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Lessines, Belgium

Hopital Notre-Dame à la Rose

One of Belgium's oldest hospitals saw patients from the 13th to 20th centuries before becoming a museum. 

One of the oldest hospitals in Belgium is packed with centuries worth of historical gems. No longer reserved for the ill and the dying, its halls are instead open to any curious visitors.

The Hopital Notre-Dame à la Rose was founded in 1242 and remained in use up until the 1980s. For centuries, it tended to the city’s sickly and impoverished. When it was founded, it was part of the broader charity movement that saw the advent of many similar hospitals during the Middle Ages.

After the last patient passed through its doors, the hospital was reborn as a museum. Touring its grand halls reveals an abundance of artistic, historical and medical treasures. The basement houses a model of the building as it looked in its hospital days, as well as fascinating archaeological finds including a statue of the man thought to be its founder.

The above-ground levels include exhibits of historic artwork and furniture, as well as a library stocked with more than 3,000 books, most of which delve into religion and medicine. There are also displays of old medical and surgical tools and Victorian pharmaceutical equipment. Yet another section of the museum explores the lives and legacies of the nuns the hospital was entrusted to for so many centuries. It’s also worth popping into the chapel, which itself looks like a work of art.