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The Hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul, Barcelona

Back in 2010 I took a trip with my family, my wife and daughter. We went to Spain first to experience the Camino de Santiago, and also to visit the city of Barcelona. It was hot and dusty and Barcelona was a strong contrast to the empty roads and villages we encountered as journeyed through Spain. Barcelona a large lively city dense and populated. Barcelona is a mix of the old and historic and the new and the innovative. One of it most famous sights is the grand cathedral structure of the designs of Antonio Gaudi, La Sagrada Familla. In sight a few blocks away is the Hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul.

If you ever do get to Barcelona you should make a point of visiting one of the lesser known and beautiful sights of the city, the former hospital of the Holy cross and St. Paul. We joined a tour of 6 people, 3 of them were myself and my family. The hospital built in the early 1900s is a tribute to art architecture and nature. The design is to promote healing with art and nature through its architecture, masterful, within its courtyard of gardens and its individual tile covered healing pavilions. Progressive in it's thinking, the hospital is a model for our present day hospital buildings which can be considered more machine for fixing, than a holistic place of patient healing.

I encourage people I know who are venturing to Spain and to Barcelona to make a point of visiting the Hospital of the Holy cross and St. Paul. Ok, maybe I actually bully them into it. I had a friend who I told to go there and even though she was on a bus tour she was persistent in getting them to take her their even when it was not on the schedule. They agreed to only 15 minutes and never having taken any tour there before ended up staying 2 hours.

In 1997 the Hospital now closed, and shuttered was given Unesco world heritage status. Today a new hospital can be seen at the back of the site and the hospital has been restored and used for a variety of different activities.

My interest all started when I read an interesting article on the healing power of art and nature and how architecture was changing, especially hospital architecture, it focused on the hospital of the Holy Cross and St. Paul. My final thesis at OCADU was an interest in the idea of inside and outside coming together in architecture, so I really connected with this hospital. I’m glad I was able to get to experience this sight as it really was something so unexpected, one of those rare travel discoveries. Something to think about, something to learn from.

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