The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (in English Holy Cross and St Paul) is one of the great works of Catalan modernism. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been deemed important enough to avoid being overshadowed by other more well-known works of the same ground-breaking style from the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century over the years.
The modernist grounds nowadays
In 1997 the grounds were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. As well as being an area that can be visited by the public, some of the reformed modernist wings have become the sites of centres and organisations related to cultural awareness and knowledge.
Organisations that have their site in the wings
EUROPEAN FOREST INSTITUTE
UN-HABITAT / GWOPA
UN-HABITAT / CRPP
During the visit, whether you choose to go round at your leisure or on a guided tour, you’ll walk round the gardens, that have many sculptures and symbolic details, and it’s here that you will probably fully appreciate the sheer brilliance of the work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner. It’s also possible to go inside three of the restored wings (the rest are now occupied by various organisations), which will allow you to see in great detail its marvellous finish and the recurrent use of ceramics for decorative and functional use.
Given its size and decoration, the most impressive wing is the the administrative wing, which was at the time dedicated to management and administrative work, and where the actual admissions to the hospital were carried out. The other two wings that you can visit are the Sant Rafael wing, which allows you to see what the wings were like when the building was used as a hospital, and the Sant Jordi wing, which houses informative displays that give detailed explanations about each of the wings that make up the Sant Pau modernist buildings.
Spaces and areas that you can visit
- 1 The exhibition area
- 2 The administrative wing
- 3 Gardens and wings that you can see from the outside
- 4 Part of the network of tunnels
- 5 Sant Rafael wing
- 6 Sant Jordi wing
Visiting at your leisure
During the visit you’ll be able to see the same areas that you would visit on the guided tour. When you buy your ticket you’ll be given an information booklet (available in Catalan, Spanish, English and French) about the history of the Hospital de la Santa Creu and about the modernist building itself. At the start of the visit you’ll also have the opportunity to see an informative video, and take a look at the informative displays within the Sant Jordi wing.
Concessions: €9.10 for senior citizens over the age of 65 and young people between the ages of 12 and 29.
Free of charge: children under the age of 12 and registered disabled visitors.
From April to October: Monday to Saturday from 09:30 to 19:00. Sundays and public holidays from 09:30 to 15:00.
The guided tour
The guided tour is carried out in various languages (Spanish, Catalan, English and French). During the tour you will walk round part of the complex accompanied by an official tourist guide who will explain the history of the hospital and of the modernist building, as well as offering historical insights and sharing various anecdotes. When the guided tour finishes you can stay inside the grounds to have another look round at your leisure and see the displays.
Concessions: €13.30 for senior citizens over the age of 65 and young people between the ages of 12 and 29.
Free of charge: children under the age of 12 und registered disabled visitors.
In Spanish: 12:00.
In Catalan: 12:30.
In French: 10:30.
* The tour will take approximately 50 minutes.
Open days: 12th February, 23rd April, 8th May, 24th September and the first Sunday of each month.
To request a guided tour in another language or a bespoke visit for groups, you should contact the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau in advance, via the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A brief history of the hospital
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was Barcelona’s response to the inadequacy of the former Hospital de la Santa Creu (the first major hospital in Catalunya, which was built in the Raval district in the heart of the city centre in 1401). This inadequacy was due to the huge population increase in the city, which had already had to start constructing outside the city’s walls, in the area that’s now known as l’Eixample.
The construction of the new hospital had to be stalled for a few years, until the city council obtained the necessary funds to launch the project. It was thanks to the will of Pau Gil i Serra that this money was raised. He was a successful businessman and banker who left half of his fortune to the city of Barcelona when he died, with the only requisites that it should be used for the construction of a modern hospital and that it would be known under the name of his patron saint (Sant Pau in Catalan, St Paul in English).
The construction of the new hospital
Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the great architects of Catalan Modernism, was commissioned to design this project. He designed a total of 48 wings (each one dedicated to an area of medicine), of which only 27 were actually constructed, that took up part of the 156,000m2 grounds of the hospital, the equivalent of 9 blocks of l’Eixample.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner had as his ideal a hospital which focused on the comfort of its patients, and a clear example of this can be found in the gardens, which surrounded the various wings and were for the exclusive use of the patients. So that the peace in the gardens wasn’t disturbed, the architect designed a network of tunnels (totalling 1km in length), which allowed the doctors, nurses and other staff to quickly access all areas of the hospital underground, without ever needing to go through the gardens and disturb the peace. Another example of the search for comfort for the patients is seen in the design of the wings themselves; as well as having high ceilings to give a more spacious feel, they were decorated according to the principles of colour therapy.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner worked on the project from 1902 to 1918, and in this time he was only able to finish 12 wings (the central row that runs from the heart of the hospital to the smaller part of his original project). After his death in 1923, his son, Pere Domènech i Saló ensured that the construction could continue, thanks to the money gained from the sale of the former hospital’s grounds. The problem was that in spite of the fact that he followed his father’s design for four of the wings, for the rest (including the Church, the Convent and the House of Convalescence) he opted for a different style, as modernism was a trend that was becoming out of fashion, and he went for an architectural style that was much plainer. At last, the hospital was inaugurated in 1930 by King Alfonso XIII, although unfortunately the entire project that Lluís Domènech i Montaner designed was never finished.
As had happened years beforehand, the new Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was already out-dated, and another hospital was therefore built in the part of the grounds that was still empty. It was then that the decision was taken to renovate the modernist grounds (which were used for hospital purposes until 2009), as these had suffered quite a lot of damage during the years in which it had been used as the hospital. After 5 years of laborious work, in 2014 its doors re-opened to visitors of the Sant Pau modernist grounds. The restoration project won’t be fully completed until 2020.
c/ (street) de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, Barcelona.
The information is displayed above.
The information is displayed above.
How to get there?
Metro: Sant Pau 2 de Maig (line 5), Guinardó Hospital de Sant Pau (line 4).
Bus: Lines 19, 20, 45, 47, 92, 192, H6 and H8.
On foot: Located around 1km from the Sagrada Familia, it’s straightforward to walk to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau before or after visiting Gaudí’s great work. The most direct and fastest route is along the Avenida Gaudí, walking from one end of it to the other.