Lining a stretch of Via D’Azeglio with its long, arcaded façade, the Old hospital of Misericordia was founded in 1201. Although the hospital was established in the Middle Ages, the present huge complex was certainly built later. Work was begun in 1476 by architect from Milan Giovanni Antonio da Erba, who clearly drew inspiration from the Sforza model in Milan: actually the transept design with four courtyards still present today and enlargeed in the 17th and 18th century, is similar to the old Ospedale Maggiore of Milan (designed by Filarete, now the State University).
Hosting the city hospital until 1926, the building now houses the State Archives, among the most important in Italy, divided into sections according to the historical periods: Farnese era, first Bourbon rule, French and Taro departement period, the rules of Marie-Louise of Austria and of the second Bourbons. Even the historical archives of the city of Parma are situated in the large interior transept where sick people were once treated. They preserve acts from 1099 to 1860 as well as various collections of maps and plans, aristocratic archives and ancient manuscripts.
The large building also plays host to two important libraries, the Civica library and the Bizzozzero library, specializing in agricultural texts, the Municipal Historical Archives, with documents from 1860 onward and a section related to the Regio Theatre.