As true Barcelona enthusiasts, at BarcelonaTours we feel the need to promote more than the most widely known attractions in the city. This is our goal for our “Hidden Gem” stories, we are doing small presentations of things in Barcelona that we find fantastic, but that might not be on everyone’s to-do list. The topic of the first gem in our series is the architectural marvel, Hospital Sant Pau.
If all hospitals looked like this, people would be checking themselves in, constantly! The hospital was constructed between 1901 and 1930, and concocted in the mind of the famous modernist architect, Louis Doménech i Montaner. The architect might stand in the shadow of his more illustrious compatriot, Antoni Gaudí, like the hospital is in the shadow of Gaudi’s greatest work, the Sagrada Famila, but he is one of the most prominent modernisme (or Art Nouveau) architects.
Besides its opulent façade and ornamentation, the architecture has been hailed for its successful adaption to patient needs. It is probably fair to say that he Catalan version of Art Nouveau is the more “phantasmagorical” of the various strands, taking inspiration form nature and striving for natural, more than strictly functional forms. However, as an architect, Montaner kept closer to “the rule book” than his colleague Gaudí did.
Born in Barcelona (1850) he became a significant figure in the city development, as an architect and as a professor at Barcelona’s school of architecture, for 45 years. His name is probably more associated with another Barcelona building, the Palau de la Música Catalana, a beautiful concert hall situated in the Sant Pere neighbourhood ( a 10 min. walk from Plaza Catalunya), and well situated on the list of the most iconic buildings in Barcelona.
As an architect, he favoured more open structure and spaces, a contrast to Gaudí’s more intricate, undulating forms. Both the Hospital Sant Pau and the Palau de la Música bear witness to this.
The hospital complex, a UNESCO world heritage site, has been a museum and cultural center since 2014, meaning that architect buffs can get up close and personal with the buildings. The hospital is one of the finest examples of Catalan modernism, and well worth a short detour off the most well trodden tourist trails in Barcelona.
How to get there
From Sagrada Familia - Walk up (west) the pedestrian Avinguda Gaudí street for ten minutes and you arrive at the gate of the hospital.
From Plaza Catalunya - Walk to the Metro stop on Passeig de Grácia and take the L4 (yellow) line to Guinardó-Hospital Sant Pau, which will bring you to the backside of the hospital. Or, take the D 50 bus to Indústria-Independéncia, then walk for 4 minutes up C/Badajóz to the hospital. Both options will take about 25 min.
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