Sant Pau Hospital
A former hospital in use up to year 2009, Sant Pau Hospital has been completely renovated to become Europe’s largest Art Nouveau site and one of Barcelona’s newest and most interesting touristic venues.
The hospital, designed by Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner and built between 1905 and 1930, was projected as a city within the city like a sum up of widely spaced colorful pavilions, well ventilated and oriented and surrounded by gardens intended to help the sick to get better sooner.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner was a Modernist architect contemporary to Antoni Gaudí and some important Catalan architects as Josep Puig i Cadafalch, Enric Sagnier and Josep Maria Jujol. He is also author of the Palau de la Música Catalana –another UNESCO World Heritage Site– and Fuster, Lleó Morera and Thomas Houses and Espanya Hotel in Barcelona.
The various buildings that compose Sant Pau Hospital like a garden city within the city are part of the regularly drawn Barcelona Eixample pattern and were all conceived as a closed and ordered ensemble that followed the ideas of the hygienists currents of the period.
The Sant Pau Hospital as was developed in 1905 was the successor of the former Santa Creu Hospital built in 1401 on the Raval district of Barcelona, one of the most dense parts of the city at the time. The Santa Creu Hospital is one of the most remarkable Barcelona’s gothic civil buildings and is now the seat of the National Library of Catalonia.
The whole of the 12 low rise buildings of Domènech i Montaner’s architecture project sum all together a total surface of about 35. 000 square meters and the open spaces that surround them another 27. 000 square meters more, plus also 1 kilometer of underground corridors that communicate the different pavilions.
The hospital was mostly built with exposed brickwork and colored tiles and several ornamental elements of gothic, neogothic and mozarab inspiration were used: three statues representing Faith, Hope and Charity by Catalan sculptor Pau Gargallo can be seen on the main facade.
Once you enter the hospital through the main entrance on the administration building, smaller size pavilions can be found closer to it and increasingly higher ones grow as long as you walk into the hospital premises creating a gracefully harmonious perspective. Pavilions that are located on each side of the hospital have the same height, being the ones on the right devoted to saints and to virgins on the left since the buildings were intended to take care of men and women respectively.
After one century of public service to Barcelona’s local communities, a brand new hospital has been built close to the historic one and the Art Nouveau heritage site ensemble has been completely renovated to reveal the magnificence of Domenech i Montaner’s work and to be not just one of the most impressively beautiful landmarks of the city but also the seat of several national and international enterprises and institutions working and investigating on the fields of health, education and sustainability in the spirit of the ideas that actually created Sant Pau Hospital.
Some of the institutions that Sant Pau currently houses are the World Health Organization, the European Forest Institute, the Asia House and the UN-Habitat agency, among others.
Sant Pau Hospital Art Nouveau site can now be finally visited and several guided tours connect it to many local touristic venues such as the Palau de la Música Catalana, the Sagrada Familia, the Casa Batlló and Casa Milà / La Pedrera and the Park Güell.
Sant Pau is really a feast for the eyes, a extraordinarily beatiful Barcelona’s Art Nouveau landmark that the general public and architecture aficionados will appreciate in its outstanding uniqueness.