SANT PAU IS ONE OF BARCELONA’S NEWEST TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

The beautiful art nouveau building was a functioning hospital until 2009.

Everyone knows that Barcelona is a beautiful city. Few other European cities seem united by such a commitment to aesthetic pleasure, from the idiosyncratic Catalan modernism of Gaudi’s Sagrada Família and extravagant parks to even the few skyscrapers the city's allowed to bejewel the skyline. Another beautiful building that’s not as well known as Gaudi’s works, however, has only recently become a tourist attraction: the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, which until recently was a functioning hospital. 

Sant Pau was designed in the early twentieth century by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner in the extravagant style of art nouveau: it's all gothic ornaments, multicoloured roof tiles and grand windows. The different buildings, called pavilions, are so beautiful they were declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997. But since it was a hospital until recently the only way you could see it from the inside was by…well…getting ill.

Thankfully in 2014, after a massive refurbishment project, the hospital was relocated to a new location and Montaner’s masterwork became available for all. Today Sant Pau has a “knowledge centre” – which hosts think tanks and other organisations doing research into health, education and the environment – and a cultural centre, which puts on concerts and exhibitions. 

If you just want to see the outside, there’s a lovely courtyard to have a packed lunch in on a summer’s day. If not, visitors can get a truly immersive tour, which takes you through the underground tunnels that connect the pavilions and a historical exhibition centre, which using interactive devices to explain the building’s history. Tickets for a guided tour cost €16.00. 

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is a 20 minute walk from Generator Barcelona. Ask at reception for directions. 

Visit Sant Pau

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is a 20 minute walk from Generator Barcelona. Ask at reception for directions.