When you are asking Barcelona tourists what they are most looking forward to, you usually hear things like:
Sagrada Familia, La Rambla, Placa de Catalunya, beach, shopping in the Passeig de Gracia, maybe the Parc Güell or the Olympic Stadium, as well as the Camp Nou for football fans.
The Hospital de la Santa Creu Barcelona hardly anyone knows.
Yes, the name alone is a bit of a tongue twister. But that should not stop us from taking a closer look at this “Barcelonetian secret tip”.
Because the clinic complex near the Sagrada Familia, designed and built in the Catalan Art Nouveau is the subject of today’s article.
The history of the Hospital de la Santa Creu Barcelona
The origins of the Hospital de la Santa Creu Barcelona go back a long way.
In 1401 Guillem d’Abriell built the basic building in the district “El Raval”, which should include and unify the so far existing 6 hospitals.
Not least the black plague of 1348, which killed one third of Barcelona’s population, revealed the absolute need for a better and more centralized health care system. And only a few centuries later, more precisely at the end of the 19th century, the original hospital lost its importance more and more.
Too small, too old.
This was the birth of the new Hospital de la Santa Creu Barcelona!
At the beginning of the twentieth century, the former banker Paul Gil decreed the construction of a new hospital by will.
The Catalan architect Lluís Domenéch i Montaner was commissioned.
Thus, it was built in the years 1902-1911 at the Avinguda Sant Antoni Maria Claret of a total of 48 pavilions.
The hospital comes to life
In addition to the beautiful architecture the genius of the entire construction project was the fact that all the passageways were laid underground.
Thus, the viewer had a truly beautiful sight when walking around and discovering the above-ground area and it was easy to forget that this is a hospital.
Simple, because the busy hospital life took place underground. While strolling over the area, the sculptures of the sculptor Pablo Gargallo stand out in particular. They give the whole scenery an almost artistic touch.
Unfortunately, the available funds at that time only lasted until 1911. Only a quarter of the buildings were completed by then.
But where an end, as often is a beginning. And so this was at the same time the opening of the second construction phase. It was later taken over by Pere Domenéch, the son of architect Lluís Domenéch.
The building complex was finally completed in 1930. Nothing more stood in the way of the ceremonial handing over to the Spanish King Alfonso XIII.
Most obvious is the architecture of the Hospital de la Santa Creu and Sant Pau Barcelona.
Even the entrance looks impressive and imposing on the visitor.
A pleasant overall symmetry of the pavilions creates a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. The terrain looks spacious, but not lost, but inviting and giving space.
The loud, hectic Barcelona is suddenly gone. Everything here is quiet, bright and calm.
Even the vegetation is finely tuned. Many orange and linden trees, as well as numerous medicinal plants such as rosemary, lavender, laurel and many other herbs and plants line the paths. A true oasis of regeneration and inner peace!
Due to the many green the air is clean and pure. There are subtle scents and aromas in the air, depending on the location, these change slightly and lasciviously wring the nose of the inclined “smeller”.
The buildings are all richly decorated and have an affirmative, soothing character.
Colorful ceramic tiles and red brick determine the overall picture. Natural stone was used for decorative purposes and the shiny ceramic is mainly used in the domes and roofs.
A slight incline of the area allows the hot air to be drawn upwards, thus carrying away the used virus- and bacteria air from the patients. The arrangement of the buildings themselves allows intense sunlight on the facades. Everything here is designed for the absolute well-being of the sick.
The interior worlds
In the buildings themselves, visitors can expect a composition of art and functionality.
In the first administration building you can admire a spacious hall with marble and mosaics. Rich ornaments and ceiling frescoes invite you to discover. Bright and beautiful colors. The cheerful, pleasant tones have a refreshing effect. The colorful windows invite you to look outside.
The operating theaters, as well as the monastery are according to their respective function very “human” set up, or have by no means the typical sterile or sometimes even uninviting character of those hospitals of yesteryear.
Although it may sound a bit macabre, but here you could obviously be “happy” to be ill.
In such an environment, the chances of recovery were certainly a lot better. After all, everything here was designed for the complete recovery of the patients.
Today’s Hospital de la Santa Creu Barcelona
The hospital itself is now only used for sightseeing and serves tourists as a destination.
However, right next door in the immediate vicinity, the modern Hospital de Sant Pau is located . Since 2009, the ultramodern hospital offers all the comforts of modern medical science and supplies about 35,000 patients annually, as well as about 145,000 emergencies.
Thus, the very first hospital of the 15th century in the district “El Raval”, as well as the newer Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau Barcelona are now mainly used for tourism purposes.
Incidentally, the same was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.
Likewise, the Catalan National Library and the Escuela Massana Arts Center are located in the former Hospital.
Let’s start with the most important thing – what does it cost to visit the Santa Creu de Sant Pau Hospital and when can I visit it?
Prices for the guides
- regular admission price: 5,00 € (approx $6.15)
- reduced admission: 2,50 € (approx $3)
Opening hours for the guided tours
- Guided tours are always available Mondays to Sundays
- 10:00 AM (English), 10:30 AM (French), 11:00 AM (English), 11:30 AM (Spanish), 12:00 (English), 12:30 PM (Catalan), 1:00 PM (English)
The exact address is:
08025 Barcelona – C/Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167. By metro you can use the L5 (Hospital de Sant Pau) or the L4 (Guinardó). Also there are the typical Hop On Hop Off Buses – destination here is the Sagrada Familia. The rest is then a short walk.
The Hospital de Sant Pau also offers individual guided tours. The program sounds quite interesting and certainly brings some exciting extra knowledge points. The tour lasts about an hour.
The following areas will be visited during the guide:
- reception pavilion,
- connecting tunnel,
- exhibit space,
- pavilion Sant Jordi,
- pavilion Sant Rafael,
- Emergency room / Sala Hipóstila, with underground corridors,
- operating room/Pabellón de operaciones,
- infirmary/Pabellón de Sant Rafael,
- pavilion Sant Jordi (exhibition),
- pavilion de la Administracion and Entrance hall,
- Conference room (no visits during conferences),
- Sala Pau Gil (former library)
For whom is a visit worthwhile?
For a first-time visitor to Barcelona the Hospital de Sant Pau is probably not on the radar.
Barcelona simply offers way too many other hot spots. For a second or third visit or for historically and / or medically interested ones a visit is worthwhile. Then even more so.
If you really want to see the hospital, you may want to combine a tour to the Sagrada Familia, as the former hospital is only a short 20-25 minute walk from the Sagrada. There are even combi tickets for both facilities at the local Barcelona tourism spots.
We say goodbye for today not only healthy and cheerful, but mercurial and cheerful from the Hospital de Sant Pau Barcelona … next time we take you on a trip to the already mentioned Sagrada de Familia, the life and Masterpiece of the great Antoni Gaudi!
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Thank you sincerely, Birdie & Hendrik.