Ospedale degli Innocenti
The 15th-century Ospedale degli Innocenti is one of Florence’s most moving landmarks. This Brunelleschi-designed building was home to an orphanage for centuries, and today houses a museum dedicated to the institution’s long history and a collection of works by masters including il Ghirlandaio, Botticelli, and Della Robbia.
Florence’s one-of-a-kind Ospedale degli Innocenti (Foundling Hospital) was built to house the Istituto degli Innocenti—Europe’s first lay institution dedicated to taking in abandoned and orphaned children. Today, the building is known for its elegant Renaissance architecture and important collection of around 80 paintings, as well as a modern interactive museum that recounts the history of the institute and the thousands of children who lived there over the centuries. As one of the city’s most unique sights, the Ospedale degli Innocenti is a must for fans of Renaissance art and architecture, in addition to those who want to take a deep dive into Florence’s local history. Join a Renaissance Florence walking tour that includes a stop at the Ospedale degli Innocenti to learn more about this memorable building’s art and history.
Things to know before you go
- The garden level houses the section of the museum dedicated to the lives of the orphans, and showcases multimedia exhibits, including video interviews of the last innocentini who lived here before the building was converted into a museum.
- The upper two floors are dedicated to the building’s Renaissance architecture and art collection.
- The Ospedale degli Innocenti is wheelchair-accessible.
- Large bags, backpacks, and umbrellas must be left at the free coat check.
- There is a panoramic rooftop cafè where you can relax and enjoy the view over the city center.
How to get there
The Ospedale degli Innocenti is located in Piazza della Santissima Annunziata, about a 10-minute walk from Santa Maria Novella train station and the Duomo.
When to get there
Though one of Florence’s most fascinating attractions, the Ospedale degli Innocenti is much less famous than highlights like the Duomo and Uffizi and can offer a quiet respite from these crowded sights around lunchtime each day.
Ospedale degli Innocenti: An Architectural Masterpiece
This Renaissance building is considered one of Brunelleschi's masterpieces, and construction took up most of the 15th century. The design includes an elegant front portico decorated by Andrea della Robbia's ceramic tondi of swaddled infants—an image that became the building’s main decorative motif and symbol. Other highlights include the “men's courtyard”, and the orphanage’s original “rota”, or small rotating door where infants could be left anonymously—an area still visible under the portico.
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