The revolving gate has been removed but there was a door, of sorts, which allowed a precious being to be anonymously given to the nuns operating the Hospital of The Innocents. These babies, born to families too poor to care for them or to prostitutes, were given a home in this beautiful building.
Orphanages are not unusual but the quality of construction in this one is special because Brunelleschi, who designed the Dome for the Duomo in Florence, was the architect in charge of this building. Even more unexpectedly, the halls of the safe haven for orphans were decorated with some of the most beautiful Renaissance art.
The hospital took its first infant in in 1445 and stopped serving the public in the 1800s, but visitors are still able to see this amazing site today.
Videos tell the story of the orphanage. One particularly moving exhibit is the room with the "marks" that were left behind with each child. In many cases a parent would divide a gold heart or locket or even a piece of cloth and leave half with the baby, taking the other half to prove paternity should circumstances ever change and the child be reunited with its parents. That half of the mark would be the way paternity was proved.