Unlike the earlier posts, this site under UNESCO was not designed by Antoni Gaudi but by Lluís Domènech i Montaner who was also a Catalan Mordernist (Spanish counterpart of Art Nouveau) like Gaudi.
To begin with, this place was a functioning hospital till 2009 and it totally confused me. I followed a map and I ended up at the actual Hospital i.e., the present functioning hospital complete with its ambulance. There were no boards that showed any direction to the old building. So, I had no option than to just get into the new hospital and ask one of the staff there on the whereabouts of the old building. Guess what, I wasn't the first one to do it. They have a bunch of printouts of a map from the new hospital to the old hospital and its a 5 minutes walk! By the time this confusion got sorted, the guided tour that I had opted for had already started! Thankfully they allowed me join in.
A hospital has been here ever since 1450. It was originally a building that brought together 6 health centres that were in Barcelona. The construction of this building began in 1401 making this the oldest hospital still standing in the world today! It was then called Hospital de la Santa Creu which means Hospital of the Holy Cross. After 5 centuries of non stop usage, in 19th C, the building couldn't withstand any more and had to be rebuilt.
It was around this time when the rich banker Pau Gil i Serra died and left a major portion of his wealth to rebuild the hospital. The new hospital was built in 1902-1930. In 1997 it came under UNESCO.
The first room is an underground room with arched ceiling and imposing pillars called the Hypostyle Hall. This was originally the first point of contact at the hospital from where patients were transported to various rooms, galleries and pavilions. Later in 1990s this place was converted to Emergency Ward. Next to this is the tunnel. When the hospital was functioning, the whole floor had several colored lines to direct people to various places like red for blood bank, blue for emergencies etc.
Halfway through the length of the tunnel were the gardens. Beyond this was the central courtyard. In the building opposite side of the courtyard is the Operation Theatre! Its exactly in the same place one atop the other in 3 floors are the 3 operation theatres! Its circular in shape and the observation deck for the interns was along the edge. It has no walls at all, just pillars & glass. So the whole place gets all the light from the nature!
The next section was the St.Rapheal Pavilion. This originally had a row of beds for in-patients. Since this was funded by Rafael Rubel, there's an R denoted in the ceramic designs atop the windows. The walls of this room is fitted with ceramic tiles which is easy to clean, so hygiene is at a good standard. Very similar to this there are 7 other pavilions which are not open to public. Each also has a dome atop with red and yellow solid colored ceramic tiles but placed to form different patterns in each dome!
Similar to Gaudi, his style is also very colorful and the usage of broken mosaic tiles to beautify surfaces, multicolored solid tiles that form pattern upon roof etc can be seen here too! Also the typical Art Nouveau elements of being inspired by nature was also visible at many places with ducks, rabbits, and geckos depicted!
In the first floor is a huge seminar room like space filled with seating arrangements with a pavilion. This is sky lit with a huge circular stained glass work on the ceiling! This particular piece of art is beyond exquisite!!! This is surrounded by the typical broken mosaic tile patterns. This was the predecessor to the much more exquisite 3 dimensional dome shaped circular stained glass with more complex patterns in his other creation Musica Catalana, which is also under UNESCO! Sadly I didn't have time to see that.
There's passage from here leading to the next room. The ceiling here is also gorgeous. But what's much more interesting is the light that passes through the colorless clear glass on the windows here. I was lucky enough to see this on a bright sunny day! See the texture difference??? The original glass of the yesteryear were handmade and blown which gives it its unique texture. However during renovation the damaged glasses were replaced the regular clear glass!
The next room is the Chapel. The view from here of the whole site is one splendid sight.
Here's a tip, if you're opting for a guided tour, look for the schedule & language. There are only about 2-3 tours per day per language. Check the timing and join on time.
To Get There:
Nearest metro station: Sant Pau | Dos de Maig
Nearest bus stop: Cartagena-Av Gaudí & Av. Gaudí-Castillejos
Entry fee: €19.00 (20% off with Barcelona Card)
Can be bought online on their website.
P.S: I was invited by Barcelona Turisme - Barcelona Card to experience the city for review purpose, however the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.