Yes, it is a hospital, but one that will make you rethink what hospitals should actually look like. Built in the early 1900s, Hospital de la Sant Pau is architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s most important work (though we love the Palau de la Música Catalana as well), and functioned as a hospital until as recently as 2009.
What is now the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site is home to a number of workspaces for entities focused on social impact, as well as being a showcase for Montaner’s modernista vision. It’s well worth the visit, and pleasantly uncrowded compared to La Sagrada Familia, which you can see from its entrance.
Of all of architect Antoni Gaudí’s works in Barcelona, La Sagrada Família has to be the most iconic.
Set to be the world’s tallest church when it is completed in 2026, La Sagrada Família sees more than 3m visitors annually. It is the sixth most reviewed attraction in the world on TripAdvisor, with mostly positive reviews.
Famously, George Orwell wasn’t a fan, saying it was “one of the most hideous buildings in the world” and that he hoped it would be destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.
Whether you consider it gaudy or a work of genius, it is difficult not to be impressed. You’re unlikely to have the place to yourself however, but the visitor numbers are managed reasonably well.
If you want to avoid those crowds entirely, here are some alternative sites to visit without being overrun.
On the surface at least, Casa Batlló is Gaudí at his most imaginative, despite it being a renovation of what was an existing building. Buy tickets in advance – after La Sagrada Familia this is about the most popular tourist attraction in town and there are always queues.
Don’t forget to check out Casa Amatller and Casa Lleó Morera adjacent – part of the “mansana de la discòrdia” or block of discord of Barcelona, named because of the sharply contrasting architectural styles.
Open year-round 9:00am to 9:00pm. Adult tickets online are €25, or €35 to “skip the queue”.
It is, without a doubt, an icon of Barcelona architecture, but there are other options if you want to avoid the crowds.
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