Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Today, I set out from cold, rainy Andorra (fortunately the only day of the trip so far that has been less than beautiful weather), and headed south. I’m en route to Madrid, but rather than lose a whole day to travel, I decided to stop over in Barcelona to see a couple more sights.

Once I Barcelona, I headed to my Airbnb in the neighborhood of Clot, close to the area of town now known as Sagrada Familia, after the famed church of the same name. The nice thing about this neighborhood is that, unlike my previous stay in Barri Gotic, this seems relatively ‘local’ with small bars and a lot of shops catering to local needs, like dry cleaners, hair dressers, and grocery stores.


Of course, you can’t stay in Barcelona without seeing the church, so I did a quick walk by. Rather than stand in line, I was content to take a couple photos outside and grab a very late lunch.


For lunch, I stopped at a restaurant / bar overlooking the church, and tried the “American burger” which ended up having chili and velveeta cheese on it – I couldn’t fault them for getting to the heart of American cuisine! Then, I wandered up to the Sant Pau Hospital, which has been turned into an Art Nouveau exhibit! The hospital itself felt a bit creepy to me (then again, most medical-related things do!) but I can understand why it’s an UNESCO World Heritage site.

View from the walk between Sagrada Familia and the hospital.

The hospital was initially established in El Ravel neighborhood of Barcelona around 500 years ago – and then, in the late 1880s, it was moved to this area as construction also begun on the La Sagrada Familia church as well. It had been the city’s public hospital until the mid-1990s, and represents some incredible architecture. The hospital is organized into a variety of wards / buildings, of which about 8 sections are available to the public today (others are still under restoration, or are being used as part of the teaching / research space on the campus).


Once inside the complex, you can wander between buildings, which used to house recreational areas, operating rooms, and a variety of other medical pavilions.


The tour starts under the main plaza, which at one point hosted the hospital’s emergency room. Then, you can see an eerie video presentation before moving into the more museum-like components of the tour.


I found that bit to be the most unsettling – again, anything medical creeps me out, so this wasn’t doing me any favors. However, moving into the space between buildings was a bit better for my nerves.


The architecture and tile work is beautiful on the outsides of the buildings. On the inside, it’s also incredible – I can only imagine what it would have been like to be a patient in a building so beautiful and colorful. It definitely beats Lenox Hill in NYC!


Tiles like these were throughout each of the wards, decorated with letter representing various benefactors of the hospital.


A restored ward, which would have been in use until the 1960s.
The primary operating room – amazing light!
The 150 remaining tiles of the some 55,000 that were originally put in.

In the main pavilion, where the tour ends, there are other beautiful tiled designs, as well as a staircase that reminded me of the Library of Congress.


After the hospital, my shot nerves deserved a drink. So, on the walk back, I stopped into a cute little neighborhood bar for a small glass of wine.


Now, I’m enjoying a bit of R&R before heading to Madrid first thing tomorrow morning.

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