An absolute gem… Hospital de Sant Pau
It might not be Barcelona’s most famous sight to visit, but the “Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau” is an absolute gem. This incredible piece of Art Nouveau architecture has to be the most beautiful hospital building in the world. It has been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco and is now open to the public. So if you have the chance, we absolutely recommend a visit.
I had seen the beautiful outside of this old hospital building several times. But until recently I had never gone in. To be honest, I never even knew you could visit. So I was more than delighted to set foot beyond the amazing facade. After going through security, we walked into the tunnel that was built to connect the different parts of the hospital. Suddenly I stopped in my tracks, startled I looked at the wall in front of me. I could have sworn I saw an old lady being pushed in a wheel chair. Yet I knew this building hasn’t been used as a hospital since 2009. Did I see a ghost? I held my breath when I saw two nurses appear on the opposite side of the corridor… until I realised they were projections…
Relieved, I stepped into the sunshine and found myself in a lovely courtyard, surrounded by numerous pavilions. All built in the same fantastic Art Nouveau style as the main building. The colours, the details, the amazing craftsmanship. I was stunned by the beauty I found behind the front of the hospital building. I had always thought it was just one building but there are actually twelve buildings and between those are gardens with fragrant flowers and herbs. After walking around to admire the pavilions we entered the main building and again I was amazed. The colours of the tiles and stained glass, it is like a fairytale palace, a colourful dream in Art Nouveau style. I really think this is one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona.
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was designed by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and was built between 1905 and 1930. Lluís Domènech i Montaner was one of the most influential architects in the Catalan Modernisme movement, the Catalan version of Art Nouveau. The ornamentation used in this movement is influenced by floral and organic shapes as well as by Spanish-Arabic architecture. Lluís Domènech combined strong structural rationality with exquisite ornamentation in his designs. He used brickwork and steel for the actual structure and decorated his buildings with ceramics, mosaics and stained glass, always looking for the perfect balance.
The project of building the hospital was an important one for the architect as well as the city of Barcelona. After much research, Lluís Domènech decided to built isolated pavilions that were then linked to one another by underground passages. This network of tunnels ensured a rapid and effective way of getting around for the staff and patients. The gardens between the pavilions provided a tranquil, harmonious place for patients to take a stroll in fresh air. Like the buildings itself, the gardens combine beauty and functionality.
When the hospital was closed in 2009, the building was turned into a knowledge centre and serves as the headquarters of several important international organisations in the fields of sustainability, health and education. The main building as well as the courtyard and two pavilions are open to the public so that everyone can admire Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which is one of Europe’s most important Art Nouveau sites.
To visit Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau:
Address: Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday: April – October, from 10AM to 6.30PM. November – March, from 10AM to 4.30PM
Sundays and holidays: April – October, from 10AM to 2.30PM. November – March, from 10AM to 2.30PM
How to get there: Metro L5, Sant Pau I Dos de Maig
Entrance fee: 8 euro for a standard ticket, free entrance on the first Sunday of the month