Behind the Mercat de La Boqueria stands the Gothic Antic Hospital de la Santa Creu, which was once the city’s main hospital. Founded in 1401, it functioned until the 1930s, and was considered one of the best in Europe in its medieval heyday – it is famously the place where Antoni Gaudí died in 1926. Today it houses the Biblioteca de Catalunya, with its distinctive Gothic arches, and the Institut d’Estudis Catalans. The hospital’s 15th-century former chapel, La Capella, shows temporary exhibitions.
Entering from Carrer de l’Hospital, you find yourself in a peaceful courtyard garden. Up a sweep of stone steps is the members-only Catalan national library. Approaching the complex from Carrer del Carme or down a narrow lane from Jardins del Doctor Fleming (the little playground), you arrive at the entrance to the institute, which was once the 17th-century Casa de Convalescència de Sant Pau.