Going out from the typical things to do in Girona, you can visit Santa Caterina's pharmacy that is one of the most important ancient pharmacies in Catalonia and a hidden secret in Girona's city, is from the end of XVII and has two rooms: the pharmacy and the back shop. The pharmacy is inside what used to be Santa Caterina's hospital that now belongs to the Generalitat de Catalunya and is where they have the government offices in Girona.
I recommend you to add it on your to do in Girona city, as it is a very special pharmacy like no other and the history of the hospital and the city is fascinating, you can visited at the weekend from 11 to 13 hours.
The pharmacy even has paintings on the walls from XIX and in the cupboards you can see a collection of more than 360 ceramic pots and mugs. There is also material used to create the recipes the pharmaceutics followed.
The pharmacy has hundreds of objects related with the pharmaceutical world, from the 360 ceramic pots, that are one of the first collections in Europe to 230 books, 85 glass pots, 81 boxes made of wood to place herbs and 65 tools that were part of the chirurgical instruments used at the time.
The furniture that remains is pretty impressive, mainly wooden cupboards, it is interesting that the back of the cupboards and the rest of the furniture have one common color, the blue on the inside.
The ceramic pots were my favorites, it reminds you of the movies you have probably seen of ancient times but are actually there standing and as shine as new. There are three different kinds, jars, white ceramic pots and long pots called albarels. The albarels and the jars are made with ceramics and glass with vegetal decorations in cobalt blue color.
When you visit a pharmacy that old you can't help wonder how it was to come buy your medicine here, the apothecary used to create the recipe for your medicine right in front of you with the needed materials until he had the end product.
He had the back store as well with all ingredients and cupboards with the tools and came back to the front of the store to weight the ingredients and mix them up until he had the recipe completed. Nowadays it lost a bit of the magic, you just order a name of a medicine you will forget in 5 seconds and they bring you a cardboard box of the medicine, credit card in hand and off you go.
Santa Caterina's Hospital, Girona
The ancient Santa Caterina's Hospital in Girona, was built in XVII century and was located in Mercadal neighborhood. The hospital was in use until 2009 when it was transferred to a new hospital in Salt. In 2013 the Hospital was declared Bé d'Interès cultural - property of cultural interest-, a denomination that protects important buildings in the country.
Santa Caterina hospital was built as the hospitals at the time were short for the increase in population the city had, and the newly built hospital gain a lot of fame and prestige for being very comfortable for the sick.
The façade in the hospital is done with stone very well cut that gives a feeling of elegance and austerity at the same time. I really liked the hospital courtyard, it has a magnificent stair that goes up to the hospital dependencies.
At the time the hospital was built it was very important that the hospital was as clean as possible, one of the things that can be seen in the rooms where all the sick were located is that there is ceramic tiles in the walls. In our visit, they explained that the fact that the wall was partially covered with ceramic tiles made it easier to clean up and a lot more hygienic for the sick, as the beds were placed on the ceramic wall.
The great of Girona painting
In the hospital we found a surprise we didn't expect, a painting of large dimensions called The Great Day of Girona, so you can get an idea of how big it is. 5 meters wide and 11 meters long painted by Ramon Martí Alsina. Then, they told us is the largest easel painting in Catalan art history, poor Martí Alsina who spent more than 10 years painting.
It seems that the reason for him to paint such a large painting was to compete with his rival Marià Fortuny and his painting Battle of Tetuan. If you look at the painting you can see that is a single piece of canvas cloth and experts believe that is actually a fabric used in the production of boat sails.
The painting shows the battle that took place in 19th September 1809 in Girona, during the Peninsular was when the invading army attacked the city. At the time of the artist it was very popular to paint scenes of battles so all his coetaneous painted similar scenes.
In the scene appear the towers of the cathedral of Girona and St Felix church and in the background you can see the walls of the city and the Gironella Tower too.
We spent a great afternoon discovering all the details of the hospital, the pharmacy and understood how they used to live and use this buildings at the time. If you are looking for new things to do in Girona in your next visit, add it to the list.