Things to do in Barcelona

Hospital de Sant Pau: A self-guided tour

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Barcelona is packed to the brim with breathtaking attractions and iconic landmarks aplenty. Still, there's so much to see and do in the city that often some hidden gems escape the public's attention. One such lesser known attraction is the Hospital de Sant Pau, also known as the Hospital of the Holy Cross and Saint Paul or Recinte Modernista De Sant Pau. The hospital was fully functional till 2009 post which it underwent some restoration work and is presently used as a museum and cultural center. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a strikingly beautiful, modernistic complex which appears to be straight out of a fantasy tale with its grand interiors and medieval exterior. Add some local flavor to your Barcelona trip with a visit to majestic Hospital de Sant Pau.

A brief history of Recinte Modernista De Sant Pau

Often shortened for Hospital de Sant Pau, the hospital's actual name is Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. All the way back in 1401, Hospital de Sant Pau was the main hospital in Barcelona. This continued till the end of the nineteenth century post which the hospital just couldn't cope with the rapid increase in both the population and territorial growth of Barcelona. After some struggle, the expansion and modernisation project began in 1896, bankrolled by banker Pau Gil i Serra. The name Sant Pau was added in honour of the banker. On January 30 1930, the newly constructed hospital was handed over to King Alfonso XIII of Spain. After 80 years, the hospital moved to a new building next door and the historic facility was opened to visitors. The original hospital buildings from the 15th century now house an art school and the National Library of Catalonia.

recinte modernista de sant pau

How to take a self guided tour of Hospital De Sant Pau

While there are many guided tours of Recinte Modernista De Sant Pau available, there's something uniquely charming about embarking on a self guided tour of the enchanting former hospital. There are certain sections of the hospital you need to include in your trip. Here's a handy list you help you better plan your self guided tour. Before going, grab tickets to Recinte Modernista De Sant Pau online and save time in queues!

Pavilion Sant Jordi

Originally designed for patient examination and observation, Pavilion Sant Jordi was later used for general emergencies and paediatrics. To make disinfection of tiles easier, the pavilion, along with the Santa Apol-lonia Pavilion, features smaller dimensions. Presently, the pavilion is used to host exhibitions.

Pavilion Sant Rafael

The Sant Rafael Pavilion is a prime example of what former infirmary pavilions looked like. The present version of the pavilion still features the original volumes of the hospitalisation ward and of the day room. The pavilion is named after Rafael Rabell who funded its construction.

Underground tunnels

A fascinating part of your Hospital de Sant Pau tour will involve exploring the underground tunnels which connect the different hospital wards and pavilions with each other. When the hospital was still active, these tunnels were used to transport patients from one location to the other.

Pavillon de la Administracion and Entrance hall

After a short walk through the underground tunnels, you'll reach the Administration Pavilion, which boasts some of the hospital's most colourful and ornate spaces. The Administration Pavilion is used as a venue for meetings and events with the glorious interiors providing a stunning backdrop.

Sala Pau Gil (former library)

Previously a library, Sala Pau Gil or Pau Gil Room is now used for all kinds of seminars and conferences. Featuring a double height space for 200 people, the room is renowned for its dazzling interiors with rich colours, quaint ceramic decoration on the ceiling and two glorious columns.

The Gardens

Hospital de Sant Pau features a beautiful garden which was used to hold medicinal plants that were used directly on-site back in the day. The design, by Domenech i Montaner, was inspired by Gaudi's work on Park Guell.

Hospital de Sant Pau opening hours

April to October

  • Monday - Sunday: 9:30am to 6:30pm

November to March

  • Monday - Sunday: 9:15am to 5pm

Hospital de Sant Pau location & directions

By Metro

Sant Pau | Dos de Maig is the nearest metro station from Hospital de Sant Pau, which is a mere five minutes walk. Line 5 of the metro will stop here.

By Bus

Cartagena -Av. Gaudi is the nearest bus stop from Hospital de Sant Pau. Buses 191, 192, N0, V23 will stop here.

Quick tips for your visit

  • A fabulous mix of neo-Gothic architecture with a visible dash of modernity, Hospital de Sant Pau features bricks, glazed tiles, mosaics and stained glass to create a visual flair that's never associated with hospitals and hard to match up to! Take some time during your trip to snap up some Instagram worth images of the beautiful architecture.
  • Hospital de Sant Pau is quite massive and there's a lot to see. While there's something special about opting for a self guided tour, it's not an option if you're short on time. Opt for a guided tour of the hospital to cover everything there's to see without getting lost in all the beauty!
  • The iconic Sagrada Familia is just 1000 meters from Hospital de Sant Pau so plan your day in a manner which allows you to visit both landmarks.
  • Some rooms of the former hospital can be rented out for companies to hold seminars, and in some cases, even weddings! You might just walk upon someone's special day during your tour of the hospital!
  • Before taking a self-guided tour, read up as much as you can about its rich past. There are fascinating facts associated with everything from the tiles used in the rooms to the placement of the glass.
  • If you're short on time and don't want to risk waiting in line for your Hospital de Sant Pau tickets, book your tickets online. You can also opt for skip the line tickets to walk right past the waiting line.
  • While you're visiting Hospital de Sant Pau, head to the old hospital in Raval where Gaudi died in 1926. Presently, the building houses an art school and the library of Catalonia. You can also grab a bite on the terrace at El Jardi.

Reviews of Hospital de Sant Pau

Sant Pau Art nouveau hospital was the highlight of our visit in the city. The fantastic Gaudi buildings are not to be missed, but the high entrance fees and masses of people is a challenge. At San Pau it is peaceful and there are very few tourists. The complex is not fully restored yet, but the lovely gardens and buildings is amazing. A number of wards and rooms are open and the outsides of the buildings are beautiful. The entrance fee is very reasonable and it is on the hop on bus route and within walking distance from the Sagrada.

- Go586014, October 2019 Tripadvisor

This is a little-known structure - or complex of buildings - that I recommend for any student of art or architecture. The good doctor's vision of health care that centers the patients proves that beauty can be combined with efficiency. The turrets and towers and tiles, all by Lluis Domenich I Montaner, are just as amazing as Gaudi's, and we are so lucky this place is now renovated. It is the LARGEST ART NOUVEAU structure in Europe, and I guess that makes it the largest in the world.

- hilaryc_pittsburgh, October 2019 Tripadvisor

Read what others have to say about a Hospital de Sant Pau on TripAdvisor.

Things to do around Hospital de Sant Pau

Apart from Hospital de Sant Pau, there are many nearby landmarks you can visit during your trip. Here are our top picks:

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