A place of mercy built under a reign of terror, the first hospital in America was constructed in 1503-1508 by order of Nicolas de Ovando, Spanish soldier, knight, and Governor of the Indies. Only a few years had passed since Columbus was removed from governorship of the island in chains, accused of gross abuses of power. Columbus was replaced by Francisco de Bobadilla, who was replaced just a few years later by Ovando.
Over its 350 years of operation it has been attacked by pirates, acted as a military hospital, and witnessed revolution. It finally succumbed to a combination of old age and earthquake damage, with much of the structure torn down in 1911 to reduce the risk of collapse. It now sits abandoned and in ruins, home to flocks of pigeons.