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Diorama showing the Santa Cruz Hospital of Toledo in the 1500s, Europe, 1901-1970

The high roof and the altar of the interior of the Santa Cruz Hospital of Toledo, Spain, give it the appearance of a church. Hospitals in the 1500s were usually run by religious orders and in this diorama nuns provide the nursing care. Patients have comfortable beds where they could draw the curtains for privacy and were kept well fed, clean and warm – although much of the treatment at the time involved purging and bloodletting. Hospitals run by religious orders were often the only source of medical care for the poor, who could not afford to pay a physician.

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Glossary: diorama

A model with three-dimensional objects, often sculpture, with a realistic painted background.