Visiting Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona

One of the main jewels of European modernism is among Barcelona's many treasures. Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, and today we invite you to visit this place of peace and tranquility with us.
Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau facade
Built between 1902 and 1930, thanks to the ingenuity of Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner, Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is one of the greatest wonders of European modernism. Located not far from Gaudí's Sagrada Familia, it is a true smart city, interconnected by passageways, and is really worth a visit.
Upon entering, we find a small room with panels explaining each of the buildings that make up the whole hospital. To better understand the space, we can see a small model right next to the panels that shows all buildings, towers and gardens in great detail. Before starting the visit, also take the time to stand a few minutes and watch the short video that is projected on one of the room's walls. The video helps understand the importance of the hospital for both Barcelona and for universal medical evolutions
 Gardens of Hospital Santa Creu i Sant Pau
After this brief introduction, we reach a room with somewhat blunt details. It is notable for its voluminous columns supporting different white ceramic vaults. This is an example of hypostyle, and although it seems to be a room without too much interest, it is worth examining for the beauty and details of the small ceramic bricks that decorate the arches connecting the columns. Originally this was a passage room where the sick were dispatched to different buildings, which we will discover more about below.
Just outside, the stairs arrive at the centre of a huge outdoor garden where we can see the whole enclosure around us. All buildings stand out for their particular architectural beauty, which was unimaginable in an early twentieth century hospital, as well as were the wide open spaces. Domenech i Montaner was concerned not only about designing an efficient hospital, but he also wanted to create a space that could heal both the body and the soul of the sick. Take a stroll through the gardens and streets that connect the buildings and feel the calm and relaxation that the environment brings.
Headquarters of the World Health Organization

Mosaics, gardens, beauty, history and culture

We encourage you to take your time and visit all buildings that are open to the public. One of them is the Sant Rafael Pavilion, built between 1914 and 1918 and designed as a space for traumatology, it retains its original essence today as it has not been renovated or redesigned. Its limited decor includes mosaics found on the walls and ceiling, as well as an original photograph of the building in its years of operation with more than forty beds inside.
Moreover, the Sant Jordi Pavilion serves as a teaching area where the functions and architecture of each of the buildings are explained. This is really worth exploring to understand each of the elements of ornamentation and the process of construction and rehabilitation during this period. Right at the end, we can also read a little more about the work and character of the architect to understand his great contribution to Catalan modernist heritage.
Sant Pau hospital grounds i Santa Creu

Headquarters of international organizations

You will see that today some of the buildings hold the headquarters of major international organizations. For example, in what were halls specialized in medical pioneering in the past, are the headquarters of Casa Asia or the World Health Organization today. In many of these buildings you will find details like mosaics made of white and blue ceramic representing the shapes of animals and flowers.
Also note the vegetation that decorates and enlivens the area with a range of flowering plants, trees and palms that create a natural environment rarely present in hospitals. They create a palette of colours and pastel greens which, together with the scent of oranges, the unique shapes of the buildings and the light from outside, help create this atmosphere of peace and tranquility. 
Staircase in the Administration Pavilion

Administration Pavilion

By the end of the visit, we arrive at what is undoubtedly the most interesting building of the hospital whose tall tower is visible from all areas. This is the old Administration Pavilion, which is accessible through a central hall with large windows overlooking the Sagrada Familia. If we look towards the ceiling, you can see nine different vaults in which all the shields of Barcelona and Catalonia are visible, as well as the cross of the Cathedral of Barcelona, the cross of Saint George and the building's construction period.
Two opposing lobby stairs that run on either side of the building emerge here. From the stairs we can perfectly see one of the basic characteristics of modernism: the main element taking in the light and colour of the architectural design.
Stained glass Pavilion Administration
Both stairs run in two opposing directions and appear in different rooms united by high vaults with rich mosaics. Along the corridors, each of the rooms overlook the entire area - it is worth setting time aside to view the last room on each side, now converted into auditoriums for concerts or conferences. Upon arrival, a surprise lies on top of the roof where a vault of vivid colours made up of small ceramic pieces create a mosaic.
Another room pays homage to the architect and is therefore called the Domènech i Montaner Room. This used to be the hall of the old hospital. Throughout its 18-metre high ceilings a wide variety of sculptures, ceramics, paintings and mosaics emerge; all united, these conceptualize the talent and creativity found throughout the grounds.
Domènech i Montaner room

Underground passages

Perhaps one of the most curious aspects of this hospital is the more than one kilometre of underground passages that connect the buildings together. These passages allowed for rapid communication and the distribution of energy, food and clothing. Also notable are its white ceramic tiles that allow quick and easy cleaning and disinfection, as well as give an aura of mystery combined with the light coming from outside.
Sant Pau Hospital Tunnels i Santa Creu
Surely you now know why the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is a must-visit in Barcelona. The hospital is very well connected to the city centre by several subway lines. Closest metro stops are Guinardo/Hospital Sant Pau (line 4), Sant Pau/Dos de Maig (line 5) and Encants (line 2). It is about a twenty-minute walk from the Sagrada Familia.  
Doors of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau open at 10h00 and close at 16h30 from Monday to Saturday between November and March. Between April and October doors are open until 18h30. On Sundays and holidays the hospital is only open from 10h00 to 14h30. We recommend buying tickets in advance on their website and to go on a guided tour - either in English, French, Spanish or Catalan - which is an enjoyable way to learn all about the intricacies of this jewel of European modernism.