Barcelona's corners: Sant Pau Hospital

Barcelona's corners: Sant Pau Hospital

With the modernist bar 1902 on one of the corners of the old entrance of the Hospital de Sant Pau, the clink of glasses is accompanied by the bustle of waiters from Monday to Sunday. There, many tourists join the neighbors in the vermouth time, or a in the grateful weekend breakfasts between caffeine and some French toast, without forgetting that we are in one of the best terraces in Barcelona.

The Modernist enclosure of the Sant Pau Hospital

Shortly after, everything is ready to launch into one of the most essential, crowded and necessary visits of Catalan modernism; a work at the foot of Gaudí Avenue. But approaching the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, original name of the set, is more; a piece of history, life change and the work done by the Hospital of the Holy Cross from the early fifteenth century—today, house of the Library of Catalonia, the Institut d'Estudis Catalans, the Massana School and two public libraries— and that, centuries later, was built in two phases, by Domènech i Montaner and his son, Domènech i Roura, in two stages that structured the construction of 27 pavilions.

A visit to the Sant Pau Hospital transports us towards a vision where marble, nature and exoticism are dispersed in buildings nourished of a huge individuality between them, an architecture that tells a history through the buildings in the nine blocks of the Eixample District that it occupied initially. In our way, we will find the underground galleries that facilitated the transfer of patients between the various pavilions and allowed to keep them separate and isolated by necessity. The old hospital, now converted into a living museum of hundred years of history of the city, was conceived as a microcosm where all the basic facilities were insured: water, sewer, streets, a church and a convent, with mainly Gothic and neo-gothic elements.

The gradual transfer of services from the Sant Pau Hospital to the new building ended in 2000, with a progressive restoration of the old complex that ended in 2015 with a big re-opening where residents and visitors where invited, such as that in 2009. If we decide to make a visit to this Modernist complex, we would not only read a part of history, with separate pavilions for men and women and dedicated to the various ailments treated in early last century, but also discover the work of Domenech i Montaner, with the geometry, the orientation contrary to the distribution grid of the Eixample (the architect did not like it) and the collaboration of all kinds of artists of the moment, as Gargallo, Labarta or Perpinyà. If you come to the city, stay at the best hostel in Barcelona. Stay in the Youth hostel Pere Tarrés!

Photo credit: Daniel García Peris via / CC BY-ND