Judging from this reflection for Weekend Reflections, you might think I had jumped over to Italy to get the shot.
Jerusalem's Italian Hospital is strikingly similar to the Medici family palace in the Piazza della Signioria in Florence (known as the Palazzo Vecchio) or to the town hall in Siena.
Italian architect Antonio Barluzzi built or restored dozens of churches, hospitals, and schools in the Holy Land.
His Italian Hospital was built from 1912 to 1919.
The gates have the Capitoline she-wolf with Romulus and Remus.
And here is the winged lion familiar to Jerusalemites from the statue atop the Generali Building.
The church, with a beautiful octagonal dome, stood at the center of the 100-bed hospital compound.
The church has been deconsecrated and now a huge mezuzah is affixed to the right side of the door (for Monday Doorways).
Enlarge the photo and see remnants of a mosaic above the door.
Today the complex houses offices of Israel's Ministry of Education.
Click on this photo to see the bare rectangles along the walls which once held the emblems of fifty Italian families that are descended from Crusader warriors. .
Unfortunately for the outstanding building, its location (Shivtei Yisrael St. corner of HaNevi'im St.) is right next to Mea Shearim.
The very ultra Orthodox Jews living there pressured the Municipality to remove all crosses and symbols of "irrelevant" history.
During World War I the Ottoman Turks expropriated the hospital from the Italians (who were fighting against them and the Germans) and it suffered damage.
After the war Barluzzi saw to its rebuilding.
During World War II the British seized the building from their enemies, the Italians, and made it the HQ of the Royal Air Force.
To quote Aviva Bar-Am, "Three years later , when the British began pulling out of Palestine, both the Arabs and the Hagana hoped to get their hands on this strategic property near the border with east Jerusalem. Fortunately for the Hagana, it discovered the exact time of the British exit and the Jews got in first."
The tower and hospital were good observation and firing posts for Israel during the War of Independence, but Jordan's Arab Legion shelled the structure.
In the early 1950s, Italy demanded that Israel repair it.
Israel replied that it was Jordan that damaged it.
Eventually Italy and Israel agreed to a sale of the building.
Since 1963 the Ministry of Education has been in the former Italian Hospital.
What a history, eh?