Let Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau be the Only Hospital in Your Life


Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Who wants to go to a hospital? No one, because the term “hospital” is strongly associated with pain, illness, and death. Nevertheless, today, I will send you to the hospital, more precisely the former hospital, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in Barcelona, Spain. Why am I so cruel? Because it will be the most beautiful hospital you have ever seen in your life.

At this time, our plan in Barcelona was not oversaturated. We wanted to take photographs inside the Sagrada Familia; to visit Gaudi’s other masterpiece, the crypt; and at last to look at his Casa Vicens. We knew that some hospital listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site was located one kilometer away from our apartments, but all except the Gaudi sites were not very important to us.

We chose a hotel in Eixample, a district of the capital of Catalonia, for the opportunity to see my beloved Basilica of the Sagrada Familia every day, but during the first evening out walking we came to a surprisingly beautiful architectural structure, more precisely, the whole architectural quarter. It was not the royal residence in the capital of Catalonia. Maybe it was Episcopal Palace or some historic university? Unfortunately, the forged iron gates were already closed, but the sign said: Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. It was that famous hospital, a real pearl of Catalan architecture. We would definitely return here during working hours.

Avenue de Gaudi. Barcelona, Spain.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Next morning, after a long line for tickets to Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, we finally saw the interior of the cathedral, and went to the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. These two architectural masterpieces are connected by Avenue de Gaudi. It is only 10-15 minutes from the cathedral to the hospital.

By the way, if you want to eat near the Sagrada Familia, I recommend a restaurant Suiza (Carrer de Sicilia, 255). Their menu is small, but the taste and quality of food are excellent. The restaurant is open from 12.00 to 15.00. One distinctive feature: a pair of vintage cars stands right in the dining hall.

This time, the hospital welcomed us with open gates and doors. I don’t like hospitals, because they are not associated with anything good, but not to visit this one, more reminiscent of a royal residence, was inexcusable.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

It must be said that something like hospital was at this place “almost” forever. Anyway, there are credible reports that doctors still saw patients at this very location 900 years ago. Over several hundred years, the old quarter of the hospital grew and became obsolete, and in time such a metropolis as the capital of Catalonia felt the need for a new ultra-modern hospital. The city council of Barcelona took the decision not to change the location.

Coincidentally, in 1896, a very rich Catalan banker Pau Gil died in Paris and left three million pesetas for building a new hospital in Barcelona. According to his will, this hospital must meet all the demands of modern medicine and include Saint Paul (Sant Pay) in its name. Therefore today, it is called the Hospital de la Santa Creu i (and) Sant Pau.

A special commission announced the competition for the right to design and construct the new hospital. Of course, there were many contenders. Who wouldn’t want to realize his architectural dream having a lot of money? The commission obtained and considered many projects, but gave favor to the design of the well-known Catalan architect, Lluis Domenech i Montaner (1850-1923).

It seems that Montaner was very happy to work with so big a budget, therefore he designed not just a typical sterile-white building with a brown roof, but a whole complex of pavilions so unusual and beautiful that it could serve as a royal residence. The original project included 48 pavilions, but only 27 of them were built. All the pavilions were connected with the surgical pavilion via underground tunnels. Every pavilion was big, high, very brightly decorated, and surrounded by orange gardens. Montaner was sure people would recover from illness more quickly not only due to medicines, but also thanks to a lot of light, air, sun, good ventilation, and beautiful interiors of the hospital.

Montaner didn’t finish the Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. After his death, it was done by his son. But when you look at this hospital/palace, without knowing how old its creator was, you would think it could have been a very young man who suddenly got the chance to realize his ambitious ideas in stone and forgot that he must build just a hospital, not Versailles. Today, we are grateful him for it.

Sant Pau Hospital. Barcelona, Spain.

Sant Pau Hospital. Barcelona, Spain.

Hospital de Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Barcelona, Spain.

Alfonso XIII, the king of Spain, opened the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau in January 1930. In 1978, it was declared a Historic Artistic Monument, in 1977 the hospital was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2009, it ceased to be a hospital and began a new life as a cultural landmark of Barcelona. Today, it hosts an art school and Catalonia National Library. What do you think is the biggest modernist structure in Barcelona? The Sagrada Familia? No. The Sant Pau Hospital.

Later, walking through Eixample and the neighboring areas, we went to the Palace of Catalan Music. Irina, my wife, as always wanted to visit a show, but this time her dream did not come true either. However, it turned out that the theater can be visited with a professional guide right now (in English, French, Catalan, or Spanish). Imagine our surprise when during a tour, the guide said that the architect of Palau de la Música Catalana was the same Montaner who built the luxury Sant Pau Hospital. So, Gaudí was not the only genius of architecture in Barcelona. He had many competitors and they were very talented.

Inside of the Palace of Catalan Music. Barcelona, Spain.

Inside of the Palace of Catalan Music. Barcelona, Spain.

Inside of the Palace of Catalan Music. Barcelona, Spain.


While in Barcelona, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.

And let this hospital be the only hospital in your life.


Info about Sant Pau

Website: www.santpaubarcelona.org/en/visits
Address: Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167, 08025, Barcelona, Spain
Nearest Metro: Hospital de Sant Pau L5

Self-guided visits

November – March:
Monday to Saturday 10.00 – 16.30
Sundays and holidays 10.00 – 14.30

April – October:
Monday to Saturday 10.00 – 18.30
Sundays and holidays 10.00 – 14.30

Guided visits

Monday to Friday:
English 12.00, 13.00
French 11.00
Catalan 10.30, 12.30
Spanish 11.30

Saturday, Sunday and holidays:
English 12.00, 13.00
French 11.00
Catalan 10.30, 12.30
Spanish 11.30, 13.30

Visits in other languages are available (arranged in advance).
The itinerary may be modified depending on the availability of the spaces.

Closing days: 1st and 6th January, 25th and 26th December.

Free entrance: 25th January, 12th February, 23rd April, 9th May, 24th September, first Sunday of the month (only self-guided visits in the regular route of the visits programme).


More about Spain:

Gala Dali’s Pubol: the Castle, the Home, the Grave
How Spanish Toledo Revived European Civilization
Antoni Gaudi Paid a High Price for His Genius

Posted in Spain. 24 Comments »

24 Responses to “Let Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau be the Only Hospital in Your Life”

  1. Diana Says:

    Victor!! As always your posts and gorgeous photos blow me away…….fantasic place..and yes…the most beautiful hospital I have ever seen! GORGEOUS!


  2. Debra Kolkka Says:

    The hospital was one of our favourite places in Barcelona. I did a post on it recently. The architect was Gaudi’s teacher. I wish I had seen the theatre as well…next time.


  3. wordsfromanneli Says:

    This is an excellent post. Superb photos as always, but the write-up tells us so much of its history. If I’m ever in Barcelona, I’ll visit this hospital for sure.


  4. SM Says:

    Beautiful Architecture.The hospital surely must have healed everyone.


  5. imagesbytdashfield Says:

    Beautiful and wonderfully captured!


  6. Pam Says:

    Wow! We love architecture.


  7. Frank Says:

    Great photos Victor. It really is gorgeous, I’ve never seen a hospital like this and have never heard of Sant Pau.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sreejith Nair Says:

    Yet another, complete Travelogue, Victor:)

    Incredible architecture and the view inside in just mind boggling …

    But, to me, the best part about this post is ‘The Title’ 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Barry Says:

    Beautiful pictures and great post. However, there’s some mix-up in the history. The old hospital(Hospital de la Santa Creu) that started in 15th century is in El Raval, not on the same ground where Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau is. The old hospital site now houses an art school and National Library of Catalonia, and is also the hospital where Gaudi died.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. Margaret Aveling Says:

    I have really enjoyed seeing your pictures & reading your report on Hospital de la Santa Pau. Brings back fantastic memories of my visits to this beautiful place. It really is an architectural delight. I have been lucky & have visited on two different occasions. The first being during its massive renovation, when you were taken on a tour through only a few of the buildings in this large complex. At that time we visited a beautiful little church …this is now outside the boundaries (but also worth a visit.) Now that the renovations of this substantial site are complete, it is really a delightful & sensationally beautiful place to visit. I love Barcelona…there is just so much to see & do.

    Liked by 1 person

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