Photo by Lorenzo Vecchia
Hospital Sant Pau
After four years of painstaking restoration work, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau finally reopened its elaborate gates to the public in March this year, no longer as a hospital but reborn as an icon of Modernista architecture and a venue for cultural events. In June, open air jazz concerts were held in the grounds and the site has been chosen for this month’s annual fashion event, Barcelona 080, which showcases local designers. Hospital beds and medical equipment are long gone and it now houses the headquarters of several international organisations, such as the European Forest Institute, the Casa Àsia and the United Nations University Institute on Globalization, Culture and Mobility.
The complex, which consists of 26 ornate pavilions set in extensive gardens, ceased to be a working hospital in 2009, when all activity was moved to the purpose-built new hospital behind it. Located at the top of Avinguda Gaudí the site has been home to a hospital since 1401 when the city decided to unite Barcelona’s six hospitals in one and build the Hospital de la Santa Creu.The Modernista hospital that took its place five centuries later owed its existence to a Catalan banker named Pau Gil i Serra who bequeathed his inheritance to the building of a new hospital in Barcelona. Gil i Serra specified that it must be the most advanced and innovative of its kind in terms of technology, medicine and architecture and that it must be dedicated to Sant Pau. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was built between 1902 and 1930 and designed by the architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner (who also designed the Palau de la Música). The magnificent entrance that faces Avinguda Gaudí opens into a wide open space in which the pavilions stand.Each pavilion housed a different medical speciality and they are connected to each other by underground passageways. Doménech i Montaner believed that light, art and beauty promoted a sense of wellbeing for sick and convalescing people and he decorated the pavilions profusely with mosaic murals, floral motifs and sculptures by the best artists of the period. In 1997 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.The site is open every day to visitors and there is a regular schedule of guided tours.
Self-guided visits. Monday-Saturday: 10am-4pm. Sundays & holidays: 10am-2.30pm
Guided visits in English. Monday-Saturday: 12pm, 1pm, 4pm.Sundays & holidays: 12pm, 1pm
Free visit €8. Guided tour €14