Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona are two contributions to Barcelona's architecture by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech.
Catalonia is strongly associated with an architectural movement from the 19th and 20th century: modernisme. One of the most noteworthy figures of Catalan modernisme is Antoni Gaudí, an architect with a unique style who helped define Barcelona’s unique landscape. Gaudí’s work however cannot be understood without first taking a look at the work of earlier architects who served as a source of inspiration for the creator of the Sagrada Família.
One of the pillars of Catalan modernism is Lluís Domènech I Montaner, the designer of emblematic works such as the Palau de la Música, considered one of the best examples of modernisme in Catalonia, and the Hospital de Sant Pau in Barcelona. Both of these buildings were accredited by UNESCO in 1997 as World Heritage Sites.
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música was a project commissioned by the Catalan choral society l’Orfeó catalá, founded in 1891 by Lluís Millet and Amadeo Vives. The Palau was to be the group’s concert hall and home office. To fund construction of the building, they requested sponsorship from industries and music-loving investors that had financed the Gran Teatre del Liceu years earlier.
Construction on the Palau was carried out between 1905 and 1908 and ever since its completion it has hosted musical performances of all types from orchestras and choirs to soloists as well as theatrical shows.
The acoustics in the Palau are excellent, as is the attractive combination of innovative architectural features and stylized art deco design displayed throughout. The use of a metallic structure as the structural base, and the exuberance of sculptures along with fine ceramic, glass and metalwork all help make the Palau de la Música a must-see attraction while in Barcelona.
This traditional building was renovated and extended beginning in the 1980s under the direction of famed architect Oscar Tusquets. The renovation works earned the following praise from Lluís Domènech Girbau, grandson of the building’s creator.
“the renovation of the concert hall and its entrances, the construction of the new building annex (…) have produced a perfectly updated work which harmonizes safety, comfort and acoustics, all in the innovative spirit that Domènech i Montaner himself would have hoped for”.
Hospital de Sant Pau
One of Domènech i Montaner’s other most celebrated achievements, the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau, is the product of the merging of 6 hospitals that had been in Barcelona since 1401. The new institution was called Hospital de la Santa Creu. By the end of the 19th century, Barcelona’s population growth and medical advances had given rise to the need to build a new building.
Construction on the project began with the help of funding from a banker named Pau Gil, who had indicated his hope that the name of the hospital would include his own name. The hospital has been known ever since as the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. Lluís Domènech i Montaner’s master piece would go on to become the most outstanding public building designed in Catalan Modernisme style.
In 2001, the Hospital celebrated its 600 year anniversary and carried out works to accommodate the needs of new medical technologies. The extension works were done by a team of Catalan architects who created a main block of doctors offices connected to four hospital buildings extending outward from the main block, creating a the shape of a hand with outstretched fingers as a symbol of the humanitarian efforts the institution had put forth over six centuries.
The architectural ensemble of hospital structures, the omnipresent modernist décor and the focus on the institution’s “commitment to people” have all helped this assistance complex become an artistic emblem that facilitates humanitarian service.
The Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau are two highly recommended places to visit while in Barcelona, particularly for those interested in art and architecture.