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 Essential Architecture-  Barcelona

Hospital de Sant Pau


Lluís Domčnech i Montaner


 in the Eixample, Barcelona


1901 - 1930


Art Nouveau 




Hospital de Sant Pau
The present Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau (Catalan for Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul) in the Eixample, Barcelona, Catalonia, is a complex built between 1901 and 1930, designed by the Catalan architect Lluís Domčnech i Montaner. It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Today it is still a fully functional hospital. There have been discussions to convert this building to a museum sometime in the future.

Although the hospital's current buildings date from the 20th century, the Hospital de Sant Pau was founded in 1401 when six small medieval hospitals merged. The hospital's former buildings near the center of Barcelona date from the 15th century, and now house an art school (Escola Massana) and Biblioteca de Catalunya (National Library of Catalonia).


I had seen a few pictures of Hospital Sant Pau and read about Domenech i Montaner whose design of the Sant Pau was state of the art in the early twentieth century. I did not realize until I visited Sant Pau that it is still a working hospital. The entry way has a glassed in urgent care waiting room, for example. Domenech i Montaner believed that people would recover their health sooner and more successfully in beautiful surroundings. The spectacular modernista medical pavilions are surrounded by gardens and trees.

There was a woman sitting in an information booth in the main lobby who spoke a bit of english. I was the only tourist there, so unless she also helped people find the various hospital departments, it must have been a very boring job.

The Hospital Sant Pau was such a wonderful surprise. Except for a few photographs, I was unfamiliar with Domenech i Montaner's work. The Hospital Sant Pau was also much larger than I expected. I walked through the garden and some of the buildings in a daze of amazement. I noticed a number of medical departments, but I don't know if these are just for consulting or if there are still hospital rooms in the basement level as there were during Domenech i Montaner's time. I did not go down to the lower levels, since it seemed inappropriate for a tourist to wander through the working medical areas.