The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (or Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul, English) is, probably, the most beautiful in the world. Designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner at the beginning of the 20th century, this hospital was endowed with state-of-the-art medical, technological, and architectural resources. For this, the architect was inspired by the most modern hospitals in Europe, applying innovations with regard to hygiene and sanitation!
The Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul comprises several independent pavilions, interconnected by a network of underground tunnels and surrounded by green spaces. And after being deactivated in the year 2009, the former hospital complex became a cultural space called Sant Pau Recinte Modernista!
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- Brief History of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
- How to Get to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
- What to See at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
- Edifici d'Administració
- Pavelló de Santa Apol·lònia
- Pavelló de la Puríssima
- Pavelló de la Marededéu del Carme
- Pavelló de la Marededéu de la Mercè
- Pavelló de la Marededéu de Montserrat
- Edifici del Convent
- Pavelló de Sant Manuel
- Pavelló de Sant Rafael
- Casa d'Operacions
- Pavelló de Sant Leopold
- Pavelló de Sant Salvador
- Pavelló de Sant Jordi
- More Posts about Spain
- More Posts about World Heritage
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was erected between 1902 and 1930, according to a project by Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Unfortunately, the Catalan modernist architect died seven years before the works were completed, so he had to be replaced by his son, also architect Pere Domènech i Roura.
Even though the original project was not fully implemented, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is, to this day, the largest complex of Catalan modernist architecture in the world. Besides, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, in a joint inscription with the Palau de la Música Catalana!
Did you know that the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was part of Spain’s tenth set of inscriptions on the UNESCO World Heritage List? This 21st session of the World Heritage Committee took place in Naples (Italy), between December 1st and 6th, 1997.
Four other Spanish sites were announced in the session: Las Médulas; the Palau de la Música Catalana, Barcelona; Pyrénées – Mont Perdu; and San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries.
Nowadays, Spain is the fifth country in the world and the fourth country in Europe with the most UNESCO sites. It has fifty heritage assets (both cultural and natural) inscribed on the world list of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization!
In the meantime, I’ve already had the opportunity to visit ten of them:
- Alhambra, Generalife, and Albayzín, Granada (1984, 1994)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (1993)
- Archaeological Ensemble of Tarraco (2000)
- Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville (1987)
- Historic Centre of Cordoba (1984)
- Old City of Salamanca (1988)
- Old Town of Santiago de Compostela (1985)
- Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona (1997)
- Paseo del Prado and Buen Retiro, a landscape of Arts and Sciences (2021)
- Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005) – Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Casa Vicens, Crypt of Colònia Güell, Nativity Façade and Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Palau Güell, and Park Güell
How to Get to the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is located in such a privileged area of Barcelona that it couldn’t be easier to get there. Even so, you have two options: travel on foot or by public transportation. Personally, I prefer the first one, as you have the opportunity to walk along Avinguda de Gaudí, one of the most iconic in the city!
If you prefer to travel by public transportation, you have metro line 5 (Sant Pau | Dos de Maig station) or buses H8, 19, 47, 117, and 192. Either way, I recommend that you visit the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in the same morning/afternoon, as they are only 900 meters away!
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is open every day of the year (except on December 25th), from 10 am to 6:30 pm, with the last entry taking place 30 minutes before closing time. On the other hand, guided tours take place on weekends and holidays, at 11 am (in Spanish) and 12:30 pm (in Catalan).
As for tickets, the self-guided visit costs €16 (adults) or €11.20 (young people from 12 to 29 years old); and the guided visit costs €20 (adults), €14 (young people from 12 to 29 years old), or €5 (children from 3 to 12 years old). In the case of the self-guided visit, there’s an optional audio guide for €4 (or €3, via the app) and children under 12 don’t pay entry. But confirm everything on the official website of Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau!
EXTRA TIP: Holders of the Barcelona Card have a direct -20% discount at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau! And if you buy a combined ticket to Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site and La Pedrera, you can explore both monuments for just €32 (or €16 each)!
What to See at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau
The Administration Building (in Catalan, Edifici d’Administració) is the largest, tallest, and most richly decorated building in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. That can be seen right away on the Main Façade: the door arches, with blue and white tiles; the stone columns, with relief figures; the neo-gothic windows, with modernist stained glass; and the iconographic elements (crosses, coats of arms, gargoyles, statues of saints and angels, etc.).
To materialize all this majestic ornamentation, Lluís Domènech i Montaner had the collaboration of two great Spanish sculptors: Eusebi Arnau and Pau Gargallo. And inside the Administration Building, the architectural wealth continues in the Vestibule, the Staircase of Honor, and the Domènech i Montaner Hall!
The Vestibule (in Catalan, Vestíbul) is crowned by nine vaults covered with mosaics, while the Staircase of Honor (in Catalan, Escala d’Honor) is made of marble. When you go up (or down), don’t forget to admire the large octagonal stained glass window on the ceiling, which was created in the workshop of Antoni Rigalt i Blanch!
On the first floor, the Domènech i Montaner Hall (in Catalan, Sala Domènech i Montaner) steals all the attention. At almost 18 meters high, the former main hall of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau includes sculptures by Pau Gargallo, a painting by Aleix Clapés, polychrome mosaics and ceramics, and a stone balustrade narrating a prayer through its balusters.
Before we continue, it’s important to note that this guide follows a west-east route – or left-to-right route – so you don’t have to walk back and forth!
Pavelló de Santa Apol·lònia
Saint Apollonia Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Santa Apol·lònia) is one of the smallest of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, together with its “twin” Saint George Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Jordi).
This pavilion goes quite unnoticed by visitors, perhaps due to its tiny size, the “more modest” architectural decoration (at least, when compared to the others), or the leafy trees that surround it.
In any case, Saint Apollonia Pavilion had a very curious function when the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was inaugurated. Apparently, this was one of the pavilions used to accommodate suspected cases of contagious infections!
Pavelló de la Puríssima
The Puríssima Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de la Puríssima) was built between 1902 and 1912, under the supervision of Lluís Domènech i Montaner himself.
Dedicated to the Immaculate Conception (or “La Puríssima”), it began by hosting the Feminine Specialized Surgery service. And years later, it was used by the departments of Vascular Surgery and Ophthalmology.
Like other pavilions at the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, this building has two floors. In the main one, a ward was prepared to contain twenty-eight beds, to which were added some isolation rooms at the back. And on the lower floor, heating and ventilation services were installed, as well as a laboratory.
Pavelló de la Marededéu del Carme
The Pavilion of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (in Catalan, Pavelló de la Marededéu del Carme) is the “twin” of the Saint Leopold Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Leopold), in the same way, as the Puríssima Pavilion is the “twin ” from the Saint Salvador Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Salvador).
Like the Puríssima Pavilion, this second pavilion in the west wing was intended for women (hence the names alluding to Our Lady), in this case for the specialty of General Medicine. Above the main entrance, you can see a sculpture of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, by Eusebi Arnau.
Pavelló de la Marededéu de la Mercè
The Pavilion of Our Lady of Mercy (in Catalan, Pavelló de la Marededéu de la Mercè) was the building of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau responsible for Gynecology. And once again, a statue of Eusebi Arnau – that of Our Lady of Mercy – adorns its access door.
The Pavilion of Our Lady of Mercy was restored by the architects Josep Emili Hernandez-Cros and Mercè Zazurca in the last decade. Currently, it cannot be visited, as it houses offices of two important institutions: the GWOPA – Global Water Operators’ Partnerships Alliance (GWOPA) and the WHO – World Health Organization.
Pavelló de la Marededéu de Montserrat
The Pavilion of Our Lady of Montserrat (in Catalan, Pavelló de la Marededéu de Montserrat) is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
Much of my preference is due to its elegant dome, which matches that of the Saint Manuel Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Manuel), situated on the opposite side.
With one more floor than the previous ones, the Nossa Senhora de Montserrat Pavilion is the fourth of the women’s pavilions, which make up the west wing of this hospital complex.
It was assigned to Female General Surgery and, unsurprisingly, features a figure of Our Lady of Montserrat on the façade, made by Eusebi Arnau.
Edifici del Convent
The Convent Buildings (in Catalan, Edifici del Convent) are a set of three large structures, linked together by bridges. The one in the middle was the Convent itself, while the building to the west (or to the left) was the Pharmacy and the building to the east (or to the right) was for the Kitchens.
Unlike the pavilions I’ve mentioned so far, the Convent Buildings were only erected in the 1920s – at a time when the direction of the works was taken over by Pere Domènech i Roura, the son of Lluís Domènech i Montaner. Perhaps that is why a stylistic difference can be noticed in its architecture and ornamentation, much more austere.
Pavelló de Sant Manuel
Since the pavilions in the west wing of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau were for female patients, it’s normal that the pavilions in the east wing were for male patients. And the first of this group is Saint Manuel Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Manuel), the former Surgery and, later, Oncology pavilion.
Built between 1922 and 1925 (by Pere Domènech i Roura) and rehabilitated between 2010 and 2014 (by Víctor Argentí, Albert Casals, and José Luis González), Saint Manuel Pavilion owes its name to Manuel Mariné i Molins, one of the patrons of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. The image of the saint is also by Eusebi Arnau.
Pavelló de Sant Rafael
These days, Saint Raphael Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Rafael) is a space for historical recreation, where you can find a faithful reproduction of an infirmary and “day room” (or visiting room) from 1920, while several information boards explain how the hospitalization process worked.
All the mosaics on the walls and ceilings are the originals – not least because this pavilion hasn’t been recovered (yet). And the history of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau – which is told, since the donation of the first patron Pau Gil i Serra, through the objects displayed here – seems to make us travel back in time!
Completed between 1914 and 1918, Saint Raphael Pavilion was the last one to be executed in its entirety by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, before his death in 1923. The building began by treating diseases of the digestive tract (to women!) and honors Rafael Rabell i Patxot, another of the patrons of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
The Operations House (in Catalan, Casa d’Operacions) is located in the center of the hospital complex’s main avenue, between the pavilions of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Our Lady of Mercy, Saint Raphael, and Saint Leopold. At the rear of the building, three apses served as operating theaters (or operating rooms, hence the name).
Did you know that the names on the main façade belong to illustrious doctors in Catalonia?
Interestingly, the Operations House is not a pavilion dedicated to patients (like the others), but rather to healthcare professionals. For this reason, it’s also called the Pavilion of Saint Cosme and Saint Damian (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Cosme i Sant Damià), the patron saints of doctors and pharmacists!
The Operations House had several floors: the Basement housed storage areas, changing rooms for health personnel, and a waiting room for patients; the First Floor was where the main operating theater, the anesthesia room, and the postoperative room were located; the Second Floor accommodated two secondary operating rooms and other spaces; and the Third Floor had the photography and radiology labs, and the generators to sterilize the water.
Pavelló de Sant Leopold
Saint Leopold Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Leopold) is the second pavilion in the east wing of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and began by treating male General Medicine patients. The building’s name was chosen in honor of Leopold Gil i Llopart, the nephew of Pau Gil i Serra.
In my opinion, this is one of the best places to enjoy the gardens of this hospital complex, which were conceived as complementary therapeutic spaces. In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century, it was already known that trees and plants had many benefits for health and well-being, from purifying the air to protecting from the wind!
Pavelló de Sant Salvador
Did you know that Saint Salvador Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Salvador) was the first to receive patients, in 1916? And that, despite being built for men, it started by treating women? Only when the entire complex was completed, did it assume the Male Surgery and later the Intensive and Semi-Critical Care Unit!
Saint Salvador Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Salvador) is, at the moment, the Information Center of Sant Pau – Art Nouveau Site, an exhibition space about the history of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau and its creator, Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The structure in the center of the pavilion represents a dragon and addresses three facets of Lluís Domènech i Montaner: the ideologue (due to his political involvement as a defender of Catalan nationalism); the architect (for having become one of the greatest exponents of Catalan modernism); and the scholar (for his passion for knowledge and culture).
Pavelló de Sant Jordi
As I mentioned earlier, Saint George Pavilion (in Catalan, Pavelló de Sant Jordi) is one of the smallest in the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
Installed next to the Administration Building, it was a kind of “triage” for male patients and the place where they were diagnosed.
Since this pavilion can only be visited during temporary exhibitions, why not take the opportunity to explore the famous tunnels of the hospital complex before you leave?
The network of underground passages at Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was a true architectural innovation in a hospital context, as it allowed the transport of patients and the distribution of materials between the different pavilions!
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