In the same neighborhood where the Sagrada Familia is located (and the so recommended RARO, about which we talk in this link), a few blocks away, is another of the great modernist works of that period: the Hospital de the Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
This hospital is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the work of another great architect from the Catalan Modernism. His name was Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The first Hospital de la Santa Creu was located in the Raval neighborhood, and its construction began in 1401, unifying the six hospitals that had been in Barcelona until then, in one. It would be the city’s public hospital for almost 500 years. But by 1926 it was insufficient for a modern Barcelona, so the project of this new hospital began, which today is only a 10-minute walk from the Sagrada Familia.
In 1902 the cornerstone was laid and the inauguration of the new facilities would come in 1930. Sant Pau was added to the original name of the Santa Creu, in this new site, due to the contribution and legacy of the banker Pau Gil, that allowed the construction of this hospital.
In 2009, the sanitary activity moved to more modern facilities, in the far northern part of this architectural complex.
And today the Hospital de Sant Pau, as the locals call it, is a more than interesting museum to delve into the modernist world, but also in the new concepts of medicine of the early twentieth century.
The original project
It was conceived as a space that could house all the services inside of it and be isolated from the city. In fact, at the time of its construction, the hospital was far from the center of Barcelona and this area was an excursion destination on Sundays. That is why it was designed with its own streets, gardens, a church and even a convent.
It was supposed to occupy about 9 blocks, with a central building where the Administration tasks of the hospital were carried out. Then, about 27 medical and nursing pavilions were developed. All the buildings were linked by underground galleries, to transfer the sick, and all of them converged at the center of the complex: the surgical ward.
The architect would also pay special attention to the use of natural light and fresh air, considering that the recovery of a patient is not only related to medical care. It is also influenced by light, color, fresh air and the beauty of a garden.
Hence, the hospitalization wings had delicately decorated ceilings and walls, and a space similar to a winter garden, so that the sick could be surrounded by beauty, even in the midst of their seclusion.
If you are passionate about architecture, medicine, or you just really like to enjoy the beauty of an incredible building, be sure to take a tour of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, so close to the Sagrada Familia, that it would be a shame to lose the opportunity.
Both buildings are connected by Av. Gaudí, a tree-lined promenade full of gastronomic offers, where you will meet many locals who enjoy this public space.
The Hospital de Sant Pau has free visits (not free of charge, “free” means that they are done without a guide), from Monday to Saturday all day, and on Sundays and holidays the closing time is at 3pm. Anyway, as the hours can vary according to the season, we suggest to check out the hospital’s official website. They also do guided tours, on special hours depending on the language. Here’s the website, where you can also check the prices of the tickets.
And this is THE tip: if you are in Barcelona on the first Sunday of each month, you can enjoy this magnificent museum for free (now yes, free of charge!). We only recommend you to reconfirm the schedule (and even book the ticket online, free of charge) on the Hospital’s website, just to make sure there is no changes and that you get your free ticket.
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