By Linda Baldwin
”Ampareu Syor, als benefactors y als asilats d’aquesta Santa Casa aixi en la terra com en lo Cel e inspireu sentiments de caritat envers d’ella. Amen.” This is a quote whose letters were carved out of stone and creates the balustrade (banister) in the original main hall of the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau. It translates as: “Succour Lord, the benefactors and the inmates of this Holy House here on earth and in Heaven and inspire towards it sentiments of charity. Amen.”
This is just one of the amazing architectural wonders that comprise the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau in Barcelona. The hospital was built between 1902 and 1930. It was designed by the Catalan modernisme architect Lluis’ Domenech I Montaner. There are 12 separate pavilions and the underground tunnels that link them together were used to transport food and medicine from pavilion to pavilion.
The hospital was built with the intention to not only provide function through its open space design, but beauty and comfort to those who stayed there. What struck me was Lluis’ Domenech I Montaner’s intent is what architect’s consider “cutting edge” today: building structures that incorporate light and serenity into their designs. Montaner accomplished this over a hundred years ago.
Today, this hospital is a museum and is also home to international organizations like the United Nations who work to improve the living conditions of citizens.
Advances in medicine and the demands of technology led to the building of the new Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau, which is within walking distance of the old hospital. There are 46 beds in the new hospital, 3 levels and 4 wings within each level. Services for patients are free because of the universal healthcare system Barcelona practices. This is one of the main differences I observed as a social worker. Our healthcare systems similar reliance on funding was evident as well. As we entered into the new hospital, “NO JUDEIL AMBELS NOSTRES SOUS” was the sign hanging above the entrance. It translates into “Don’t mess with our money.”