To most tourists Gaudí is identical with Barcelona. However one of his friends/rivals, the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, built renowned Barcelona’s landmarks too. One of Domènech i Montaner’s masterpieces is Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. This is the world’s largest art Nouveau Site.
The hospital was founded in 1401 by a fusion between six hospitals in Barcelona. At that time the hospital was called Hospital de la Santa Creu (Hospital of the Holy Cross). This fusion was needed due to the pest outbreak in 1348.
At the end of 19th century medicine world required new facilities. This means the hospital needed to be expanded. Big renovation project started funded by the legacy of a wealthy Catalan banker Pau Gil. With his donation Lluís Domènech i Montaner was assigned to lead the project. The project began in 1902. In 1930 Domènech i Montaner’s son completed it. A couple of times the renovation stood still due to lack of finance. At the end 27 pavilions were completed above the 300 square metre ground. Honoring its benefactor the hospital has since been called Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
Conversion to Art nouveau site
This was until 2009 a fully operational hospital before it moved to the new facilities somewhere else in the city. After that the complex had been under construction for 5 years. In February 2014 the hospital, now called Sant Pau Recinte Modernista was reopened. From 27 Pavilions there are only 16 left. Visitors can enter only 4 pavilions. The rest were closed or under construction.
This was the most significant restoration projects in recent years. There have been parts of building added in and outside the pavillions since 1930. The goal of the restoration was to bring the complex in the original state. This meant getting rid of the added elements. This resulted in a fabulous, most complete and biggest Art nouveau site in the world.
This is the exhibition space in Administration pavillion. There is a video, an interactive touch table and a maquette as introduction.
This was the emergency department once. Imagine the hectic of the medical staff providing first aid to patients.
An extensive underground tunnel network connects the pavillions. Staff used this tunnel so that the patients did not have to go outside to reach another pavillion.
Now you see how big the site is with the garden and Valencian orange trees, the pavillions with colourful roof, façades, sculptures and mosaic.
Exhibition of the restoration in Sant Jordi pavillion
Me in front of the entry hall in Sant Jordi pavillion
The main hall at the Administration pavillion
Look at Gil above one column, the holy cross and Catalan weapon symbol on another.
Richly decorated ceiling
Detail of the staircase
The Lluis Domènech i Montaner room
Domènech i Montaner worked together with several Catalan artists building this hospital; Pablo Gargallo (sculptures), Francesc Labarta (paintings & mosaic) and Josep Perpinyà (ironsmith).
This hallway downstairs left me speechless & overwhelmed. It is so stunning how the natural light is brilliantly reckoned with. Awesome!
Seeing all this Art nouveau (modernista) splendour, I can hardly imagine it was a functional hospital once. Sant Pau Recinte Modernista is highly recommended to visit.
Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
Carrer Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167
For more information browse the official website
Entry (prices from July 2014)
Self-guided visit € 8
Guided visit € 14
Brochure Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
The Sant Pau modernista precinct