Sant Pau Recinte Modernista – former hospital, and largest Art Nouveau site in the world

I’ve just seen a ghost. I’m navigating the subterranean tunnel network here, tunnels that were used by staff to quickly manoeuvre patients around the hospital, when I spotted a figure move along the wall. I saw it out of the corner of my eye, but I saw it. Undeterred (I have always wanted to see a ghost..), I carried on. Here ghosty ghosty ghosty, i thought, as I walked toward the faded apparition. I quickly realised, rather disappointingly, what it was that I’d seen: a flickering hologram of a nurse being projected onto the wall. It’s a very visual way of adding some tangible history to these shiny white walls.

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Although not necessarily a lesser-known thing to see here, Hospital Sant Creu I Sant Pau is often overshadowed by Barcelona’s other fantastic offerings, not least La Sagrada Familia, which is just a few hundred yards from here.

This grand complex consists of around eight buildings linked by the aforementioned underground tunnel network. It’s described as being the largest and most important Art Nouveau site in Europe, and is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s both huge and beautiful.

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The Hospital originally came about in 1401 with the merging of six different hospitals in the city of Barcelona at that time. Santa Creu, the Hospital of the Holy Cross, as it was called in those days, was right in the centre of the city. Due to the rapid growth of the population in Barcelona, and the advancement of modern technology and medicine, a new hospital was required to serve the people.

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Thanks to the bequest of Catalan banker Pau Gil, who required that a new hospital be constructed under the proviso that it include the latest technological, medicinal and architectural advancements, the first stone of the new hospital was laid on 15 January 1902.

Designed and constructed by famed Catalan architect, Lluís Domènech, the hospital’s construction took until 1930 when it finally opened its doors.

Domènech envisioned a hospice with lots of natural light and wide-open spaces, where recovering patients could relax with families while gazing upon beautiful, colour splashed buildings, mosaics and stained-glass windows. All of this, he imagined, would aid in the patient’s recuperation process.

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After eighty years of healthcare activity in this Modernista complex, in 2009 the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau moved to new premises built in the north of the city, ushering in a new era for the historic pavilions of Domènech i Montaner.

Nowadays, the hospital acts as, among other things, an historical archive – one of the most important of its kind in the world today. It hosts an exceptional collection of documents that reflect much of the history of Catalonia and Barcelona over more than 600 years.

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Today you’re able to visit and learn all about this unique hospital’s history. Entry is swift and queues are virtually non-existent. You are free to wander the complex at your own leisure and are invited to explore the large number of buildings and the interactive exhibits that some of them house. I particularly enjoyed gazing upon the stunning Art Nouveau architecture, relaxing in the quiet courtyards and, of course, snapping lots of pictures for Instagram. Let me know if you see any ‘real’ ghosts!

Opening hours:

November–March:
Mon–Sat: 10am–4:30pm
Sun & holidays: 10am–2:30pm
April–October:
Mon–Sat: 10–6:30pm
Sun & holidays: 10am–2:30pm

Entry fee:

Regular: 13€
Guided tour: 19€
Reduced (12–29 years, from 65 years): 9,10€
Reduced guided tour: 13,30€
Child (under 12 years): Free

Sant Pau Recinte Modernista:

Address:
Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167
08025 Barcelona

Directions:

Metro:
L5 to Sant Pau/ Dos de Maig
L4 to Guinardó/ Hospital de Sant Pau
Bus: Line 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 117, H8 to Sant Antoni Maria Clarnet
Line 192 to Sant Quintí – Sant Antoni Maria Clarnet

Attractions near Sant Pau Recinte Modernista:

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Park Jardins del Princeps de Girona
  • Casa Museu Gaudí in the Park Güell

 


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