The legend has it that in 510 a.C. the ricks of wheat harvesting in Field of Mars – propriety of the king Tarquinio il Superbo during the uprising, formed the Tiber Island (Isola Tiberina). Not so much involved in the vicissitudes of the city, Tiber Island hosted the Temple of Aesculapius,God of Medicine, whose cult was established in 292 a.C., after a severe pestilence.
The island used to have an obelisk placed in its middle, representing a symbolic foremast, as a reminder of the arrival of the cult of this divinity from Epidaurus. As a matter of fact, two years earlier some wise old men went to the Greek city to consult the God after a severe plague: the myth tells that a snake – Aesculapius’ symbol – left the temple and climbed on the ship. Once in Rome, this same animal went down the island establishing itself there. After the Aesculapius’ Temple was built, the story tells that the plague miraculously vanished.
On the columns of Aesculapius’ Temple stands San Bartolomeo’s church. During the Renaissance, thanks to the initiative of a Catholic religious order, an hospital was built. The hospital is today run by the Fatebenefratelli Congregation. Under the actual hospital there are supposed to lay the ruins of the same obelisk. Furthermore, l’Isola hosts the Temple for youngster Jews and the Israeli outpatient care, holding the status of artistic heritage of humanity.