The Hospital Sant Pau is recognised at one of the gems amongst Modernisme in Barcelona, such is its visual impact, it is easy for the visitor to overlook that originally the Hospital of the Holy Cross was situated in the Raval district of Barcelona and the ‘modern’ building was constructed 400 years later!
Due to the generosity of a local banker, Pau Gil (hence the Sant Pau bit of the name now) it wasn’t until January 1902 that Domènech watched the first stone laid on the new expansion site.
He had studied the great hospitals across Europe and had designed a space specifically to enhance the health and well-being of the patients, at the time it was cutting edge design, both architecturally and medically! The original plan called for 48 buildings (although only 27 eventually went up and only 16 of these followed his Modernisme plan). Individual ‘pavilions’ designed to embrace natural light and with super ventilation were to be linked by subterranean service passage ways, keeping the overall site ‘clean’ hygienically and aesthetically.
In keeping with the religious resurgence of the time, we cannot be surprised that there is ‘line-of-sight’ between the hospital and Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, body and soul always needed healing together!
Like his great Modernisme counterpart down the street, Domènech went to the great drawing table in the sky before the project was completed, but his son Pere Domènech i Roura took up the baton and King Alfonso XIII formally opened the new hospital on January 16th 1930.
Advances in medical care and the cost of upkeep of this spectacular building again prompted a move to a mundane but efficient site in the 2009. Good news for the patients and fantastic news for the visitor, who doesn’t now have to break something or contract a nasty disease to get inside for a close look at this spectacular building!
It was declared a Historic Artistic Monument in 1978, and was recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
The site offers two options for the visitor, a self-guided tour or an official guided tour. Both are good value and excellent, you just need to choose what suits you best. The building sometimes hosts events, like Barcelona 080 Fashion Week, so it is always an idea to check to see if any restrictions apply.