The buildings that comprise the aptly-named Complesso Monumentale di San Michele a Ripa Grande, whose 300-metre long facade overlooks the Tiber, were erected during the 17th and 18th centuries and served a number of charitable purposes.
The complex started life in 1679 when a nephew of Pope Innocent XI (r. 1676 -1689) commissioned Mattia de Rossi to build the Ospizio di San Michele, a hospice to house and train orphan children. To this building were added, in 1693, the Ospizio dei Poveri Inabilito (disabled poor). In 1709, Pope Clement XI (r. 1700-21) had Carlo Fontana to extend the complex even further and to include the Ospedale dei Mendicanti. Later additions to the building were a prison for minors and a women’s prison.
The complex also included two churches: the ancient Santa Maria del Buon Viaggio, and the larger church of San Michele, which was designed by Carlo Fontana and completed, in 1835, by Luigi Poletti.
Since 1969 the complex has housed the offices of the Ministero dei Beni Culturali (Ministry of Cultural Activities).
My name is David Lown and I am an art historian from Cambridge, England. Since 2001 I have lived in Italy, where I run private walking tours of Rome.
Search Walks in Rome: