Open Doors at Hospital Sant Pau – but not for long!

On Monday I went up to Barcelona to meet a friend and we went to visit the recently restored modernist hospital of Sant Pau.  Until March 16th you can go and wander round this amazing place for free but after that some parts will be used as offices and as a conference centre and only a small part will be open to the public as a museum

There are 12 buildings in this huge complex and a landscaped garden with orange trees

It was constructed between 1902 and 1930 and is a must see for anyone interested in architecture in general and modernism in particular. I had no idea it would be so magnificent – everywhere you turn it is WOW!

For four years it has been under restoration with European grants and although some parts are still being worked on there are several buildings open for viewing

The buildings were the work of the famous Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner

The origens of the hospital go back to the 15th century when the Consell de Cent (the old parliament) brought together six Barcelona hospitals and started building the Hospital of Sant Creu. At the beginning of the 20th century the banker Pau Gil funded the construction of a new hospital to provide care for a rapidly rising city population, The result was the Hospital Sant Pau
He wanted his initials to be an integral part of the building  – so you find P and G in many designs

I am not going to go on any more about the history – we need all the space for pictures

I thought this was the caduceus but I now find it is the Rod of Asclepius which has only one snake

The caduceus has two snakes and wings and was the staff of the god Hermes.  Asclepius is a god of healing and medicine. The original Hypocratic oath began with the evocation ” I swear by Apollo the Physician and by Asclepius and by Hygieia and Panacea and by all the gods…..”

The ceilings are worth a post to themselves

and the windows

 designed to let in the maximum light. They knew about light and space and the importance of beauty

Imagine being in a hospital ward with these roses all around the walls

Here is a picture of the women’s ward when it was fully funcioning

The exterior walls are also full of interesting details

The restoration has been as environmentally friendly as possible. The whole complex is heated using a geothermal system with all components hidden underground.  It is incredible to think of all the work that went into creating this restoration. One of the exhibition displays likened it to healing a very sick patient – first the diagnosis which revealed terrible deterioration and years of neglect, then creating a plan and making decisions, followed by intensive treatment  and now finally the result – a potentially vibrant and inspiring place to visit and work.

The pictures speak for themselves – this is an incredible place and if you have the chance to see it before March 16th then go!

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