In the 5 weeks that I have been in Spain, I have visited a lot of places.
Weeks 1 and 2, for example, took me to Gaudi’s Casa Battlo, the Catalonian Museum of Art, and Montjuic Castle. Weeks 3 and 4 took me to Sagrada Familia and the Prado Museum. As amazing as all of these places were, however, I think what had me the most excited was the Hospital de Sant Pau. Now, I know what you’re thinking, who in their right mind gets excited to go to a hospital? No one, because the word hospital is near synonymous with illness and death. All that aside, the Hospital de Sant Pau is the most beautiful hospital I have ever seen, with a history that is even more so.
One of the former operating rooms
Construction on the hospital began in 1901 after 3 million pesetas (Spain’s currency before the euro) was donated by Catalan banker Pau Gil. Catalan architect Lluis Domenech i Montaner was asked to complete the project, and the original blueprints of Montaner show that original project included 48 pavilions. As Gil’s money eventually ran out, only 27 of those 48 pavilions were built, with each of the pavilions connected to the surgical pavilion via underground tunnels, and characterized by large spaces, bright decor, and a close proximity to the gardens. Montaner’s reasoning for this: light, good ventilation, and beautiful interiors, in addition to medicine, would help the people heal faster. Although the Hospital de Sant Pau stopped acting as a fully functioning hospital in 2009, I think Montaner was successful in his mission.
Inside one of the patient recovery rooms