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Hospital de Sant Pau


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Visit of an old Catalan hospital

Translated by Mirabelle Ibalanky — one year ago

Original text by Eliette Fritsch

This former Barcelona hospital, located in the district of El Guinardo, was founded in 1401. By the demographic and economic growth in the early nineteenth century, the architect Lluís Domènech Montanerconçut draws the plan for a new modernist hospital of which construction began in 1902 and ended in 1930.

In 2009 everything was transferred to the North because of its old age and deterioration, in order to ensure a contemporary medical assistance. Nevertheless, these 12 buildings and its ​​green space of 27000 m² have become a reference of the heritage and culture of Barcelona, ​​which is why Sant Pau was named an artistic historical monument in 1978 and registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Now, this forum is a centre for documentation, research and innovation as the headquarters of organizations of international importance. These institutions work to provide answers to the challenges of our 21st century society in the areas of health, education and sustainable development.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

During my stay in Barcelona, this visit to the hospital was necessary. Since it was Sunday, the admission was free and there was no guide. At first sight from the outside, the architecture of the buildings is magnificent. When we see the quantity around us, you want to visit everything, but unfortunately only 3 buildings are accessible. General admission with guides on weekdays cost 14 euros, which seems to me expensive for the few places that can be visited.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

As we advance, we arrive in the first room named Hipólista. Originally it was a passage room that gave access to the underground galleries to communicate between the halls. In the 90's, it turned into an emergency department. We can point out the large columns, united by brick arches decorated with ceramic, support the vaults covered with white tiles.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

Among the possible outdoor spaces is the Sant Rafael hall which was built from 1914 to 1918. It was originally intended for the trauma department and had 44 beds. At the back of the room, we can admire a giant photo of those days that lets us imagine the conditions of hospitalization which are completely different from the present time. It sets itself apart from others with the ornament of the letter "R", in reference to Rafael Rabell and his daughter Concepció, widow of Romaguera, who left an important legacy for its building.

This hall has not been rehabilitated, on the contrary, the elements added in recent years have been removed to keep its original volume. You can also see the mosaics on the wall and ceiling.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

The splendid staircase of the administration hall's vestibule overlooks a magnificent stained glass window making the light and the colors impressive. On the first floor Sagrada Familia is visible in the distance, which cultivates the uniqueness of this building.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

The gardens that were designed for therapeutic purposes are filled with greenery, trees like lemon trees and plants. It's easy to soak up the peace and quiet that these gardens evoke.

Visite d'un ancien hôpital catalan

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