The First Medieval Hospital in Romanian Territory

If your steps are heading to the heart of the country it is impossible for the mind and the heart to let them go around Sibiu. This citadel fortified city is preserved and inhabited since 1000 years ago. It conceals history at every step, surrounded by a perfect mistery aura, by old and new bound in harmony. Sibiu has always been an important city in the romanina history of medicine. Not just the first hospital, but also the first pharmacy in Romania were founded centuries ago on the present teritory of Sibiu.

Going down from the “Small Square”, under the first romanian bridge made of cast iron, “Bridge of Lies” (young lovers promissed one another eternal love under the moon), you see on your left a small street, with historical charisma.
If Coltea Hospital in Bucharest is the first to run with no interruptions, then in Sibiu, on Azylum Street, no 4, it is the first hospital on the present territory of Romania, first medieval hospital, documented on June 24, 1292. There is a contract-like document that certifies the passing of the management of a house with all outbuildings, from laic domain to the spiritual one, in the hands of the monks of the Order of the Holy Spirit (“fratribus cruciferis de ordine Sancti Spiritus”). This place is occupied today by an Azylum and its Church. This Church is original from the medieval period, it is organized inside as a huge medieval hall. The purpose of the building was to lodge the sick, the needy and the poor. The patients beneffit of a complete medical, social and spiritual care.

Along with the azylum there were “the lazarets”, centers where plague or leprosy patients were isolated. Such an establisment existed in 1475, in a construction of the Dominican Monastery, near the Elizabeth Gate, outside the city walls. Two other so called “Spirit Houses” are mentioned as asylum exclusively for poor and sick women.

The first lay physicians, university graduates specialists, were initialy foreign doctors who assisted local elites, clergy or patricians. The documents mention the doctor Jacob (XV century) and in 1510 Johann Saltzman, who stopped the plague at Sibiu. Among the Sibiu doctors: Samuel Kolesseri (1663-1732), Andreas Teutsch (1669-1730), Andreas Soterius (1694-1775), in 1748 named the town doctor, Michail Seivert (1721-1776), Michael Neustadter (1736-1806 ), Andreas Wolf (1741-1812), and Michael Blassius.

In Sibiu appeared in 1793, the first Romanian medical book written by ophthalmologist John Piuariu-Molnar, "Advice for the students in surgery." Piuariu-Molnar is also set at Sibiu, being called "eye doctor of the Grand Principality of Transylvania" and "protomedicus" of Ardeal.

On July 25, 1852, in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, it was laid the foundation stone of the Public Hospital, inaugurated in 1857. Of the historical buildings of the hospital, we mention Internl Medicine (1859), Ophthalmology, (1904), Dermatology (1904), Infectious Diseases (1913) Otolaryngology (1904), Medical Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy I (1913). The park dates back to its founding hospital, here there is a beautiful fountain, called "Fountain Dutchman".

  • Main text and photos by Daniela Mihaila and Sinziana Ionescu (August 2013)

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