The first medical institution in Bucharest was established by boyar Mihai Cantacuzino in 1704. Its name was the Coltea hospital. A hundred years later, another hospital was established in Bucharest, a modern institution for its times, the Filantropia/Philanthropy hospital. It was mainly tailored for the needy, hence its name, Filantropia. Today, the medical establishment is one of the capital city's landmarks in terms of medical standards. The hospital boasts the oldest maternity and one of the leading obstetrics and gynecology centers. It is also a period, listed edifice. It all started with a physician schooled in the West, who was keen on contributing to the building of a new country. With details on that, here is historian Adrian Majuru:
"His name was Constantin Caracas, he was of Aromanian origin and was fresh from his studies abroad, returning to a very complicated country, back then known as Wallachia, and which was under Ottoman suzerainty. It al happened somewhere around 1800. And Caracas returned to an almost exclusively oriental city, Bucharest, that is, where the word sosea, road didn't even exist in the urban vocabulary, not to mention medical or healing terms. Nevertheless, for that time we can say a reforming class of boyars existed, and they oftentimes used their fortune as a guarantee, so that a new country project could be implemented, which included a reformed of the healthcare system, in an incipient form. And this minority, through its small-scale projects, fought for a greater final project, namely the modernisation of Romania, they helped Constantin Caracas establish a hospital he named Filantropia, Philanthropy, that is the love of people. He got promoted and was appointed the town's physician in 1804 and initiated the building of the hospital somewhere around 1811 and 1815, it was subsequently restored a little bit since 1816, following the model of the hospitals in Vienna. So from the very beginning it was a pavilion-style hospital with its buildings placed in the midst of a garden, just as it can still be seen today. It was also Caracas who set up a regulations system, a modern one, for the organization and functioning of a hospital, in 1817. As for the building proper of the hospital, it was possible through public subscription beginning 1810, with the project having the support, financially and logistically, of boyar Grigore Baleanu who donated the plot of land but who also offered money and provided construction materials. But he was also helped by Russian general Kutuzov who at that time was administering the Romanian principalities during the Russian-Turkish war."
The chosen area for the new hospital lay outside the city as it then was, very close to the city's northern barrier. Subsequently, behind the hospital, on the greenfield there, even a peripheral neighborhood came into being, a slum/mahala, as it was known back then, a place of dubious reputation and with a lowly social status. However, the slum/mahala had its charm, and in time it got developed, yet very few things today speak of its distant past. Save for the Filantropia hospital, obviously. Historian Adrian Majuru:
"It was basically an uninhabited area at the time when Dumitru Caracas initiated his project. Only a fountain could be found there, built by ruling prince Mavrogheni some two years prior to the building of the hospital, and where, in time, a church was built, also named Mavrogheni. After the hospital was completed, somewhere around 1833, the first leg was built, of the road known as Kiseleff today. Back then it lay on the outskirts of the city, and was designed as an area for promenade or relaxation. The inhabited slum/mahala lay a little bit farther and was known as the Devil's Slum/Mahalaua Dracului, revolving around an inn. It was a halting place placed ahead of the entrance to Bucharest where all sorts of merchants put up, who were travelling from the nearby villages to sell their merchandise. They spent the night there, before they entered Bucharest, since in the past, in today's Victory Circus, one of the barriers of the city could be found. There people were checked for their ID, were asked about their time why spent in Bucharest and were handed a stamped certificate so they could sell their stuff in the closest marketplace. That happened before World War One, in a bid to control people's transit through Bucharest, somehow."
When Constatin Caracas's project took off, Bucharest had two other hospitals, Coltea and Saint Panteilimon. Here is historian Adrian Majuru once again, this time telling us how the three hospitals operated. Adrian Majuru:
"The Filantropia hospital is part of the early generation of modern hospital establishments in Bucharest. Since 1832, the hospital was under the administration of the Board of Civil Hospitals/Eforia Spitalelor Civile, a groundbreaking entity at that time, some sort of privately-managed NGO which was functional prior to the Healthcare Ministry in line, which came into being after World War One. Three medical establishments operated under the administration of the Board: the Coltea and Panteleimon hospitals, as well las the Filantropia/Philanthropy hospital, which means the love of men. As for the establishments, they did not include the hospital alone, they also had other kinds of property and plots of land that were donated such as farmland, oilfields and forests. So they had all sorts of property, even in Bucharest, which were capitalized on as they were rented out. So those areas generated hefty revenues, apart from the income generated by the administration of the medical services on offer."
The Filantropia Hospital became a maternity hospital in late 19th century. The new building was erected between 1881 and 1883. The architecture of the central pavilion as it is still seen today dates from that time. Additions or changes that were made in time resulted in today's architecture, which is pleasant and easy to recognize by most of Bucharest city dwellers. In 1891, related to the maternity hospital, a school was founded, for specialized nurses. In the 1920s, Filantropia also became a University Clinic. The hospital was deprived of its properties since they were nationalized during the communist regime. Notwithstanding, the hospital continued its medical performance at a high standard to this day.