Hôtel Dieu, from the Middle Ages to today

Creation of the Marseille Hospital

Hôtel Dieu is a generic term from the Middle Ages to refer to the city's main hospital. These are charitable establishments generally located near the cathedral and managed by the Bishop. He welcomed all the destitute, the unfortunate, the old and the sick. In Marseille, this was no exception.

Its origins can be traced back to the Middle Ages, after the 2nd Crusade which marked the defeat of the French armies and many war wounded were landed in Marseille. In 1166, the opening of the Hôpital du Saint-Esprit, located in the Accoules district, opened its doors to the many sick and needy but also to abandoned children. The remains of a 12th century chapel can still be seen today. You can admire its mosaic floor from the ground floor of the Hôtel Dieu. In 1593, the Hôpital Saint-Jacques de Galice and Saint-Esprit merged under the name Hôtel Dieu.

Hotel Dieu through History

This monument in Marseille is built on the same place as the former Saint-Esprit hospital. In the 17th century, it was distinguished from other hospitals by its lay staff. The Hôtel Dieu closed its doors with the arrival of the Great Plague in 1720 and was not reopened until 1722.

To compensate for the lack of space and to keep pace with the growth of the population of Marseille, it was expanded on several occasions. Indeed, the city grew from 15,000 inhabitants in the 12th century to more than 100,000 during the French Revolution. For this reason, in 1753, 26 surrounding houses were acquired in order to extend the building. The architectural body of the building has remained as it was when it was built in 1753 according to the plans of architect Jacques Hardouin Mansart. It was nevertheless enlarged and refurbished in 1860/66 by the architect of the Marseille hospitals. These developments consisted mainly of expansions. Thus, the complex was raised by one floor and pavilions were erected at the ends of the two aisles. Then, above all, he cleared the slum areas that were blocking the entrances. The large monumental staircases date from 1782 and are the work of the architect Brun. The main facade and stairs are listed in the directory of historical monuments. During the Revolution, the Law of July 11, 1794 imposed on charitable institutions their property and nationalized them. Thus, the municipality of Marseille took over to allow Hôtel Dieu to continue.

From 1860 to 1866, the hospital was renovated by the architect of the Marseille hospitals Félix Blanchet. Napoleon III will inaugurate the new Hôtel Dieu on November 15, 1866, the day of Empress Eugenie's birthday.


But, despite this, the steady increase in the population of Marseille eventually made the establishment too small. But it was not until 1993 that the last patients had to leave the Hôtel Dieu, which became a university hospital. It will eventually close its doors permanently in 2006.

It will be bought by the city of Marseille a year later before being leased for 99 years to the AXA Real Estate Group. After 3 years of work, Hôtel Dieu has been transformed into a five-star hotel and opend its doors in June 2013 under the name Hôtel Intercontinental.

Inscribed in the repertory of Historical Monuments in 1963, you can admire this building of Marseille's history in the Old Port district, in the 1st arrondissement. You can contemplate the magnificent view of the Basilica of Our Lady of La Garde. At night, the building's facade is illuminated from 9:30 pm. The lights add to the majestic atmosphere of the building. Visiting Marseille requires a walkway in front of this imposing building.