Day Trip Rucksack
Small 10L day trip and museums rucksack
L'Hospital de Santa Creu I Sant Pau (to give it it's full name) Is an art-nouveau hospital complex constructed 1901 to 1930 with the purpose of replacing the small medieval Santa Creu hospital in the Raval district of Barcelona. The new hospital takes it's name from Pau Gil, a Banker who paid for the new buildings.
By the time the new hospital entered service, the design of open wards was out of date due to airborne pandemics such as the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918 to 1920. Despite this, Sant Pau Hospital continued to serve the city of Barcelona as a fully functional hospital till 2009. The hospital was replaced by a newer hospital built behind the art nouveau complex.
From 2009 till 2014 the Hospital de Sant Pau buildings were closed for restoration and transformation into what is today called Recinte Modernista sant Pau. A collection of the buildings have been restored to as they were in 1930.
What makes the Hospital de Sant Pau unique, and worthy of the UNESCO list (awarded 2007) is the brightly coloured tiling, use of marble, stone capitals, stained glass, decorative brick construction and vaulted ceilings. The design and decoration are more akin to a grand house of a banker or rich merchant than a hospital. The building was constructed for public use but with a palatial aesthetic and grandeur.
The Administration Pavilion, Pabellón de la Administración is the building that you see from the street and is now conference space and some high end rented office space. Within this building you will find the Lluís Domènech i Montaner room, Sala Lluís Domènech i Montaner with galleried chapel. This room is reached by the grand staircase from the vaulted lobby with high ceiling and marble columns. A common theme throughout this building is the stained-glass windows featuring the Sant Creu Cross. The decoration is lavish for what was designed to be a hospital.
In the basement of the administration building is a large hall with displays of pharmacology and period medical instruments. It is from here that you can access the white tiled subterranean passages linking all the wards.
Nuestra Señora de la Mercè Pavilion, Pabellón de Nuestra Señora de la Mercè is one of the wards that has been fully restored. Notable features are the cathedral like vaulted ceiling that is tiled in a bright turquoise and white pattern and today houses an exhibition. The walls are also tiled in a decorative patten with the crest of Sant Creu above the windows. Also is a ceramic display showing some pieces that you cannot see from the ground such as chimney decorations.
Sant Salvador pavilion, Pabellón de Sant Salvador is another ward that has been restored with a similar tiling pattern as Nuestra Señora de la Mercé pavilion and is also an exhibition space. At the end of each ward is a Solarium with large bay windows. The solarium was a space designated for recovery before discharge from the hospital. The solarium of this ward is restored to its original form with mosaic domed ceiling.
Sant Leopold pavilion, Pabellón de Sant Leopold is another ward that is also restored to it´s original tiling plan. In this ward you will find the main patient area set out with period beds with a central heating radiator in the centre of the ward. The solarium is also restored.
The final space to explore is the hospital Sant Pau garden. This is a patio and raised beds area between all the wards and was considered an additional space to promote healing before discharge from the hospital as well as a space that visitors could visit patients. Not all of the pavilions are open as museum space (some are private offices) but around the garden you can find interesting crests and mosaics in the brickwork of the multiple pavilion buildings.
Hospital de Sant Pau is a reflection of the great advances in citizens rights and facilities during the late 18th and early 19th century before the Spanish Civil War put an end to the very forward-thinking Socialist Catalan Society and Government.
On a vist to Sant Pau, you will learn about early 20th century pharmacy and surgery as well as the important Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
Recinte Modenista de Sant Pau is one of many Catalan Modernist/Art-Nouveau architectural masterpieces dotted throughout Barcelona city. Although Lluís Domènech i Montaner was a contemporary of Gaudí, his works do not garner the obsessive tourist attraction as La Sagrada Família, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera etc. This is a huge plus when wanting to visit something truly beautiful and having the space around you to take in the vastness of the ornate spaces without views obstructed by selfie sticks and too many visitors.
The Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is at one end of Avenida Gaudí. A diagonal pedestrianised boulevard cut through Barcelona´s grid street layout to link two of Barcelona’s most important modernist masterpieces. Gaudí´s La Sagrada Família at one end and Lluís Domènech i Montaner´s Hospital de Sant Pau at the other end.
My advice is to take both attractions as a half day (3/4 day) activity, first visiting La Sagrada Família at 9 or 10am. I recommend this hour because when you are the first in the morning there are less people and also the angle of the sun through the stained-glass windows of the basilica paints the interior in an array of bright colours.
After la Sagrada Família, take a walk along Avenida Gaudí noting the ornate wrought iron lampposts and fountains and monuments. This is a pedestrian street with bars and cafes and a good place to grab a snack or early lunch.
At the top of Avenida Gaudí you will find Recninte Modernista de Sant Pau and you enter via the ornate wrought iron gates on the corner of Carrer de Cartagena and Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret. Note the Sant Creu cross motifs on the gates.
Additionally, on offer are guided tours in various languages.
I recommend allowing 2 hours for the visit. Once finished, outside within the front square there is a snack bar. Also, across the street I found a nice heathy eating bar that sells salads, sandwiches etc.
Tip: Don't forget to take headphones for your mobile to enjoy the audio guide
For information about the wards and other buildings, I have a map of the Recinte Modernista de sant pau in the documents section.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was also a prolific Catalan Modernist Architect like Antoni Gaudí wih a lot of his works being industrial buildings. However, he did also create public buildings such as Palau de La Música Catalana and Castell dels tres dragons - three dragons castle, in Parc Cuitadella
2023 is the centenary anniversary of the death of Lluís Domènech i Montaner (b. 30th December 1849, d. 27th December 1923) so expect special exhibitions about this great architect, famous for buildings of public use (Hospital, music hall, Grand restaurant for world fair, factories with good conditions for workers). Most of Gaidí´s works were private commissions for wealthy citizens and religious institutions (grand houses & Basilicas).
The various buildings that make up the Recinte Modernista have ramp access wiht an elevator between floors in the adminastrative building. Being a former grand hospital the site was already thought out for movement of people on wheels.
You may be asked to deposit large rucksacks, bags and other over sized items in reception before entering. Access should be OK with a small 10L rucksack.
Bicycle anchorage points outside la Sant Pau Hospital Recinte Modernista in Carrer de sant Antoni Maria Claret with Avenida Gaudi.
Don't forget headphones for the audio guide.
Address: Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret 167, Barcelona. 08025
La Sagrada Família is served by Metro stop ‘Sagrada Família’ on the Blue (L5) and Purple (L2) lines. Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is served by a metro stop called ‘Sant Pau | Dos de Maig’ which is one stop along the blue line from la Sagrada Família.
Nearest pay parking is in the new hospital behind Recinte Modernista or using any ´blue´parking spots and paying for up to two hours. Personally, I recommend using the Metro because Carrer de la Marina is pedestrianised and finding parking near is difficult if you do not have a residents permit to park in the ´green´ zones in the neighbourhood.
A city walk in the Sagrada Familia area of Barcelona via La Sagrada Familia, Avenida Guidi and Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau.
Distance: 2.46 Km
Return Travel Fare: T-Casual Zone 1
Transport Network: Barcelona Metro