Designed by the Catalan architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner and built between 1905 and 1930 the former hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau is the most important Art Nouveau site in Europe. Labelled as a Historic-Artistic Monument in 1978 it is also part of the World Heritage by UNESCO since 1997 in recognition of its unique construction and artistic beauty. Sant Pau is a city in the city. The Art Nouveau site is completed of an ensemble of 12 exceptionally designed Art Nouveau buildings, surrounded by peaceful Mediterranean gardens and connected by a kilometer of underground tunnels.
After more than a century as The Hospital of Santa Creu i Sant Pau, a long and meticulous project of restoration gave a second life to the Art Nouveau site, the most important work of Catalan architect. Mixing tradition, as they act to maintain this place, and modernity with a sustainable and responsible tourism policy. The Sant Pau Recinte Modernista has today three functions. The first one, landmark to visit for tourists, schools or locals, as it is an amazing historic and artistic monument. The second one is that you can rent the place for a private or corporate event. Finally, the third one is that the former hospital is home of non governmental organization, they try to attract the leading organizations working in the fields of innovation, sustainability, health, education and culture. Among them there is the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Regional Activity Center for Sustainable Consumptionn and Production (SCP/RAC).
Concerning the cultural program of visits, the top priority is the dissemination of the artistic values of the UNESCO World Heritage site. The main elements are the fantastic heritage value of the site and Domenech’s works. The institution’s history allowing visitors to understand how was working the hospital at the time and Sant Pau’s contribution to the advancement of medicine in the city context. The visits have different typologies of format: self guided (with an audioguide or not), guided visit, school and families activities, specialized visits (technical tours). The Sant Pau is certified under the biosphere sustainable tourism program which means they apply a responsible tourism model. This model is compatible with the unique characteristics and operations of the complex, respectful of the local environment and social context.
Sant Pau Recinte Modernista is always looking for new activities and a few years ago they decided to organize concerts and conferences, it has been a huge success and it is today a location of high-quality cultural initiatives such as BACHcelona Festival or Victoria de los Angeles LIED Festival. It has a wide offer during all the year with Days of Music in fall, winter and spring whereas during June and July concerts and events including the Barcelona Fashion Week take place in the garden.
The former hospital is an interesting place with a rich history but, unfortunately not so well known from the visitors of Barcelona. If you are in the Catalan capital and want to visit an iconic building less crowded than the Sagrada Familia be sure to put the Sant Pau Recinte Modernista on your list !