We visit Sant Pau: the former hospital that is now a World Heritage site
The world's largest ‘modernista’ site is now 100 years old and today is home to institutions such as the Barcelona Health Hub and the Barcelona International Public Policy Hub.
The Sant Pau hospital complex is one of the leading examples of Barcelona's modernisme—the Catalan manifestation of art nouveau. For almost the entire 20th century, it housed one of the city's most important hospitals, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau.
Everybody in Barcelona has heard of Sant Pau, although not all have visited it, despite the fact that the architectural complex designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner is considered the largest modernista monument in the world, a city within a city built in this renowned architectural style. In 1978, it was declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument and in 1997, a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Built between 1910 and 1930, it was a leading hospital in Barcelona until 2009, when all healthcare activities were moved to the brand new Hospital de Sant Pau, located right next to the historic modernista building. At that point, the space ceased to function as a hospital and renovation work began. Since then, the site has become a historical landmark in Barcelona, enabling us to see what a hospital was like at the beginning of the 20th century.
The historical value of the Hospital de Sant Pau is enormous, as the Administration Pavilion (one of the buildings in the modernista complex) also houses the Historical Archive of the Santa Creu i Sant Pau, which, with documents from the 15th to the 20th century, is one of the most important collections of hospital documents existing today.
"Inaugurated in 1930, this modernist work by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner was an important hospital in Barcelona for almost a century"
Since February 2014, the complex has been open for both free and guided visits and has laid on a wide range of cultural events with the support of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau foundation, the owners of the complex. The foundation is composed of representatives from the Barcelona City Council, the Government of Catalonia and the Cathedral Chapter, an institution that dates back to 1401.
The foundation currently runs an active cultural program that showcases the modernista site, its architect, the valuable heritage of the Hospital de Sant Pau, and its contribution to medicine. The aim of the foundation is to manage the complex in such a way as to support the hospital's healthcare, research and teaching activities, and to implement a range of different social initiatives and projects.
Innovation and sustainability
The space is also home to several institutions in the field of innovation, sustainability and health. These include the Barcelona Health Hub, an association that promotes innovation in healthcare by connecting entrepreneurs and established companies so cutting-edge innovation can be transferred to the healthcare sector.
Another body located in the modernista site is the Barcelona International Public Policy Hub (BIPP HUB), a platform that seeks to encourage and strengthen the impact of the international public policy sector and to provide support to new bodies that are interested in establishing themselves in the city.
Completan la lista entidades como la oficina de Barcelona de la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS), el Banco Farmacéutico, la Fundació Domènech i Montaner, el programa de la ONU-Habitat, el European Forest Institute (EFI), Euro-Mediterranean Economist Association (EMEA), European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) o el Centre d’Activitat Regional per al Consum i la Producció Sostenible.