Hospital de Sant Pau Modernista Site | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Hospital de Sant Pau Modernista Site

The world’s largest Modernista complex

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The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul) is, without doubt, the most important work of the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The building was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. The Modernista architect started its construction in 1902, using Europe’s most modern hospitals for inspiration. He wanted a health centre where patients could take a stroll and not feel closed in. The result was a set of pavilions in the Modernista style of ornamentation and architecture that are surrounded by gardens and connected to each other by means of a network of underground tunnels.

Why visit Hospital de Sant Pau?

The construction of the Hospital de Sant Pau site was made possible thanks to the legacy of a Barcelona banker established in Paris, Pau Gil i Serra, who set part of his estate aside for the construction of a hospital named after Saint Paul to attend to the poor.

This is the origin of an entire Modernista complex that was designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner and built in two phases: the first, from 1902 to 1913, when the architect created 13 Modernista buildings; and the second, from 1920, when his son Pere Domènech i Roura built another six buildings in a moderate Modernista style.

In 1926, the old Hospital de la Santa Creu (Hospital of the Holy Cross), located on Carrer de l’Hospital, which is now home to the Library of Catalonia, and one of Europe’s oldest was transferred to this new hospital centre. This is why it is often also called Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

Domènech i Montaner conceived the hospital as a ‘city-garden’. For this reason, the site has its own urban tissue running north-south so that the maximum amount of light would shine on the main facades. The buildings were constructed with the usual materials and decoration employed in neo-Gothic inspired Modernisme. It features a profusion of ceramics, exposed brick, and sculptures whose extensive iconography reveals the religious and historicist vision of its architect.

Even though in its time it was an innovative hospital centre, a new 21st-century hospital has been built within its enclosure, while the original complex has been restored. The pavilions have been transformed into functional work spaces and new sustainability and energy-saving criteria have been applied to them. Since 2014, the site has been a knowledge centre for institutions, companies and bodies dedicated to health, sustainability and education research, including the United Nations and the World Health Organisation.

 

How do you get to Hospital de Sant Pau?

From the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista stop on the Blue Route of the Barcelona Bus Turístic, you will get to the main entrance of the modernist complex if you follow Carrer de Cartagena as far as Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? When Barcelona City Council awarded it the special prize in the 1913 edition of its annual artistic buildings competition it stated that each individual building in the complex was worthy of a prize. As it was the third time that Domènech i Montaner took this award, having previously won for Casa Lleó i Morera and the Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona City Council awarded him the institution’s Gold Medal.
  • Local’s tip: Entrance to the site is free on the first Sunday of the month.
  • A must: To discover decades of Barcelona’s science, history and architecture in a single day.