Hospital de la Santa Creu

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Hospital de la Santa Creu

For over five centuries, between 1414 and 1926, the old Hospital de la Santa Creu was the city's major healthcare complex. It was built round a large Gothic cloister and underwent various phases of construction and extension. The result is an imposing rectangular site with a central courtyard and exits on Carrer de l’Hospital, to the south, and Carrer del Carme, to the north.

A long history

In 1401, in the presence of King Martin the Humane, the first stones were laid of the Hospital de la Santa Creu, which was to become the largest hospital centre in Barcelona. In fact, it was built with the idea of bringing the city's six existing hospitals together into a single location. The first stage was completed in 1414 and the hospital started working while the other stages were being carried out.

A century later and the complex was practically finished. Further modifications were made in the 16th century, such as the addition of the two monumental staircases and the plateresque-style door on Carrer de l’Hospital, which became the main entrance. Drinking water was piped there too. In the 17th century another building was attached, namely the Casa de Convalescència convalescent home (the building at the northern end, adjacent to Carrer del Carme) and, in the following century a surgery college, the Col·legi de Cirurgia, was built.

From King Martin to the architect Gaudí

By the end of the 19th century the hospital complex could not provide care for the ever more populous city, nor was it able to adapt to the dynamics of modern medicine. Consequently it was agreed to move it to the newly built Hospital de Sant Pau. After five centuries of medical service, the old hospital closed in 1926, the same year that a seriously injured Antoni Gaudí was admitted and died. He was one of its last patients.

Today, the old Santa Creu Hospital is regarded as one of the most important civil Catalan Gothic sites, and its various buildings continue to serve the city. They house the national library, the Biblioteca de Catalunya, as well as the Institut d’Estudis Catalans (IEC - Institute of Catalan Studies), the Royal Academy of Pharmacy and the Academy of Medicine, with its anatomical amphitheatre, a dissecting table that can be visited and which dates from the 18th century. There is also a school, a theatre, a contemporary art centre and, in the middle of the courtyard, a fountain with a jet where an egg dances, L'ou com balla, to celebrate the festival of Corpus Christi.

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