The ornate Hospital de Sant Pau is a grand old hospital.
It just happens to be one of the most complex art nouveau-style buildings in all of Europe.
This magical hospital, full name Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, actually helped rehabilitate the sick with light and art – revolutionary stuff!
Let’s take a look at how to visit the Hospital de Sant Pau Barcelona.
Hospital de Sant Pau Recinte Modernista
This vast former hospital, aka the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau (full name Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau) is actually Europe’s biggest modernist complex.
It was built between 1901-1930 and later declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
As mentioned, it was the masterpiece of local Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner – the brains behind other such amazing top arcelona attractions as the music lover’s dream Palau de la Musica.
With the exception of the master himself, Antoni Gaudi, there is perhaps no Catalan architect that has left a bigger imprint on the city of Barcelona.
⚠️ Warning ⚠️: Barcelona’s top two attractions must now be booked in advance.
You can book fast track tickets to both individually or get them as part of a discount pass:
- ⛪ Buy now: Sagrada Familia Fast Track Admission (skip the lines)
- 🏞️ Buy now: Park Guell Fast Track Admission (skip the lines)
- 🎟️ Buy now: Best of Barcelona Bundle (Sagrada + Park Guell + 10% discount code for all else)
You will not be able to book these tickets on site – lock in your tickets ASAP or you could miss out.
Domènech i Montaner envisioned Sant Pau Hospital as an urban garden with a modern village: streets, pavilions, and even a church and convent. All would be connected via underground passageways so as not to upset the complex’s aesthetic harmony.
This art nouveau site is just an explosion of colour and ornamentation – a true feast for the eyes which begs the question… why can’t all medical facilities be like the Hospital Sant Pau?
Hospital de Sant Pau History
The Hospital de Sant Pau was built on the foundations of an old religious hospital dating back to the end of the 800s.
In all, the site is really the product of the convergence of 6 small medieval hospitals and was officially founded in 1401.
As Barcelona became the industrial engine of Catalonia, the city’s growth called for a new hospital, and the area called Guinardó (at the time isolated from the rest of the city) was perfect due to its slight elevation – and distance from the densest parts of the city.
This was of great importance during epidemics.
It was the queen’s banker Pau Gil who donated a considerable fortune upon his death in 1896, that allowed the city to move ahead with its new modernist hospital. Domènech i Montaner was put in charge.
Even though construction on the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau started in 1905, it was not inaugurated until 1930 due to a lack of funds and problems with the local bishop – and out of the 48 pavilions envisioned, only 27 were built.
The Recinte Modernista in Barcelona stopped being a functional hospital in 2009.
The hospital complex that we enjoy today is the result of some amazing €100 million restoration works in the past years (the work of Barcelona city council and others) that have given us an amazing museum and cultural centre.
What to See at Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau
The Hospital de Sant Pau is an eclectic mix of neo-Gothic influences where bricks, glazed tiles, mosaics, and stained glass create an ornamental richness that’s hard to match.
You might get so lost in the beauty that you’ll come to believe that it was the artistry of the complex itself that was able to cure the sick!
The visit starts in the massive main courtyard, which consists of two large v-shaped buildings that almost form arms to welcome patients to the hospital.
🧑🎨 Want more of Gaudi? Unlock his masterpieces with the top Gaudi tours in Barcelona.
The symmetrical complex surrounds two streets that run north to south and east to west.
On every side, you’ll find a different hospital building dedicated to different fields of medicine, all isolated from each other and with one or even two basements to prevent the spread of disease.
The connection between the various buildings of Sant Pau Recinte Modernista is via a series of underground tunnels which are partially open to visitors.
Inside you also get two huge gardens intended for growing flowers and purifying the air.
It is said that Domènech i Montaner was more interested in the beauty of the complex than its functionality as a hospital.
He thus undervalued many structural questions: for this reason, many of the buildings, like the patients, had to be stabilized.
Visiting the Barcelona Hospital de Sant Pau
Any thorough visit includes seeing the three major buildings, of which you’ll come across surgical theatres, recovery wards, hospital beds, and more.
The Pabellón de Sant Salvador (Sant Salvador Pavilion) is a reconstruction of the hospital’s history as the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau – from its creation in 1401 to its closure in 2009.
On the top floor, you’ll find an exhibit which symbolizes a dragon and pays homage to the life and works of Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
From here, you’ll head on to the external spaces where you truly see Montaner’s city-garden vision on full display. There’s no better place than here to admire the exterior beauty of the buildings.
You’ll also see the Pabellón de Sant Rafael, which has been restored almost exactly as it was when it was a fully-functioning hospital in the 1920s.
Here you’ll get tons of information on how the Hospital Sant Pau operated, the types of medicine practiced here, and how citizens lived in Barcelona at the beginning of the last century.
It’s then on through the underground tunnels that you’ll end up at the Pabellón de la Administración – the administration wing of the Sant Pau Hospital that displays some of the building’s most impressive decoration.
Once you’re out on the atrium, make sure to soak in the incredible panorama (comparable perhaps only to Park Guell) of the Sagrada Familia, which is reachable on foot just 10 minutes down the famous Avinguda Gaudí.
Barcelona Hospital de Sant Pau Tickets
As with most of your Barcelona itinerary, you’ll be able to buy tickets at ticket windows. However, with this method, you run the risk of having to stand in line.
My suggestion is always to buy skip-the-line tickets in advance online via ticket giant Tiqets.
Hospital Sant Pau Ticket Prices
- General admission: €16.00.
- Visit with an audio guide (English, Catalan, Spanish, French, German, or Japanese): €20.00.
- Reduced tickets (residents, 12-29, 65+): €11.20 (€15.20 with audio guide).
- Children under 12: free.
- Private groups (max 30 people): €250.00.
- First Sunday of every month, Feb 12, Apr 23, Sept 24: free.
Those Barcelona travellers with disabilities of 65% or higher or a degree of dependency of 3 also go free with a companion.
There is also a 20% discount for the Recinte Modernista using the (almost) all-inclusive tourist discount pass called the Barcelona Card.
Those interested in booking groups need to email [email protected].
Guided Tours of the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona
You can also get a full guided tour accompanied by a licensed guide.
They will explain the history of the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau, go in-depth into the building’s unique and artsy characteristics, and its evolution with the city of Barcelona.
The guided tour of the Hospital de Sant Pau lasts an hour and a half.
Hours: English (10:30 am), French (11:00 am Fridays), Spanish (noon), Catalan (12:30 on Fridays, weekends, and holidays)
Price: €20.00 (senior, 12-29: €14.00).
FYI: guided tours are not available on free entrance days (listed above).
Hospital San Pau Opening Hours
- April to October: Monday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:30 pm
- November to March: Monday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Closed December 25th.
The last entrance is 30 minutes before closing time.
How to Get to El Hospital de Sant Pau
The address is Carrer de Sant Antoni Maria Claret, 167.
While it isn’t one of the city’s best neighbourhoods to stay for tourists, the Guinardò neighbourhood is served by a fairly convenient Barcelona metro station from the centre: Sant Pau – Dos de Maig (blue line L5).
It’s also about a 12-minute walk from the Sagrada Familia metro station.
Due to its proximity to the city’s most popular attraction (the Sagrada Familia), most people simply take the 10-minute walk from there. Combining visits to these two titans on the same day is recommended.
If you’re looking to arrive via bus, you’ll find that lines H8, 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 92, 117, 192 stop there.
Numbers 19 and 47 pass through the city’s centre: Plaça Catalunya.
Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau FAQs
What is Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona?
Hospital de Sant Pau is a historic hospital complex in Barcelona, Spain, that was built in the early 20th century. It is known for its impressive modernist architecture that was devised by famed architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
What makes the Hospital de Sant Pau unique?
Hospital de Sant Pau is unique for its historic modernist architecture. Though most departments are closed,the hospitals there are still a few that remain in its historic confines. The hospital is now a popular tourist attraction that offers guided tours.
How do you get to El Hospital de Sant Pau?
From the city centre, you can take the metro L5 (blue line) and get off at the Sant Pau / Dos de Maig station. The hospital is just a few minutes walk from the station.
Alternatively, you can take bus lines H8, 19, 20, 45, 47, 50, 51, 92, or 117 and get off at the hospital’s main entrance. The journey takes around 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic and your starting location in the city center.
Does Hospital de Sant Pau offer guided tours?
Yes, Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona offers guided tours of its impressive modernist architecture and historic buildings. The tour also includes a visit to the beautiful gardens and courtyards that surround the hospital. Guided tours are available in multiple languages and are led by knowledgeable and friendly guides.
Still looking to visit the Hospital de Sant Pau Barcelona?
Yes, it’s always possible I may have missed something about this top art nouveau site.
So tell me – what else do you need to know about visiting the Hospital de Sant Pau? And how else can I help you along your way in my adopted home?
Enjoy the Hospital Sant Pau 🙂