Basil the Great’s City for the Poor of Caesarea/Kayseri (AD 369)

In 369, Caesarea and its surrounding region suffered from an extreme drought—rivers dried up and crops failed. As a result, food became extremely scarce. Many poor people wandered around without food, clothing, and medical care. Basil was moved with compassion and opened a kitchen for the poor and hungry.

In 370, after he was ordained Caeserea’s archbishop, Basil built a large facility about a mile northeast of historic Caesarea to serve the poor, sick, orphaned, and elderly. The complex of buildings became known as Basiliad, or the City of the Poor. Run by monks and nuns, it provided shelter, job training, and free medical care. It was here that a Christian hospital was started, likely the first in history. Subsequently, a number of other hospitals were developed across the Roman empire, a major breakthrough in the history of medicine. When ancient Caesarea fell into ruin, Basil’s neighboring City for the Poor was still thriving, and became the modern city of Kayseri, Turkey.