Standing next to the bright, white Iglesia de la Altagracia are the ruins of the New World’s first hospital. They remain as a monument to Governor Nicolás de Ovando, who ordered the hospital built in 1503. So sturdy was the edifice that it survived Drake’s invasion and centuries of earthquakes and hurricanes. It remained virtually intact until it was devastated by a hurricane in 1911, and public-works officials ordered much of it knocked down so that it wouldn’t pose a threat to pedestrians.
Today visitors can still see several of its high walls and Moorish arches. Note that the hospital’s floor plan follows the form of a Latin cross.