Old Hospital de la Santa Creu | Barcelona Bus Turístic

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Old Hospital de la Santa Creu

A hospital from the 15th century and the finest example of Catalan Gothic civil architecture

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Barcelona’s general hospital for five centuries, a masterpiece of Catalan Gothic civil architecture and now the Library of Catalonia. This architectural compound, declared a Historic and Artistic Monument of National Interest, was constructed in 1401 in the Raval district with the aim of agglutinating the city’s six hospitals.

What to visit at the Old Hospital de la Santa Creu?

The Hospital of the Holy Cross complex, which was Barcelona’s general hospital from 1401 to 1926, is a grandiose building, composed of three Catalan Gothic style structures in the form of a U, whose splendour comes as something of a surprise to the visitor. Even though it is a 15th-century construction, it is its subsequent 16th-century modifications that lend it the appearance we see today.

The top floor, where the Library of Catalonia is now located, is home to an open-plan space that was constructed without columns to hold the main hospital wards with their high, pitched wooden ceilings. On the first floor, where there are now two public libraries, the layout of the three structures, which were home to administration, the kitchen and the laundry, is marked by a Gothic cross vault.

The complex is closed by the House of Convalescence, which contains one of Catalonia’s most remarkable examples of ceramic decoration and is now the headquarters of the Institute of Catalan Studies; the Royal Academy of Medicine, which conserves one of the last original 18th-century anatomical theatres; and the old Gothic chapel of the hospital complex, which was painted in 1703 by the baroque artist Antoni Viladomat i Manalt and is now an exhibition centre.

 

How do you get to the Old Hospital de la Santa Creu?

The old Hospital de la Santa Creu is in the Raval district, behind La Boqueria Market. From the Plaça de Catalunya stop on the Blue Route of Barcelona Bus Turístic, you can get to the Old Hospital de la Santa Creu by going down La Rambla as far as carrer de l'Hospital.

 

For the most curious of you

  • Did you know? One of the last patients to be attended at the hospital was Antoni Gaudí. The architect was knocked over by a tram on 7 June 1926 and taken to the Hospital de Santa Creu without initially being recognised. An architect priest recognised him and asked him if he wanted to be transferred to a clinic, to which Gaudí replied: “My place is here, among the poor”. He died three days later.
  • Local’s tip: The courtyard of the old hospital contains the Rubió i Lluch Gardens, a calm place to get away from the multitudes of the city centre.
  • A must: To see one of the most grandiose and best-conserved examples of Catalan Gothic architecture.