For members


RANKED: The best hospitals in Spain

Here are the ten best hospitals in Spain, including public and private institutions, according to a new study which ranks the best health centres in the country based on health workers' opinions.

Healthcare workers at the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz hospital in Madrid, widely recognised as the best in Spain.
Healthcare workers at the Fundacion Jimenez Diaz hospital in Madrid, widely recognised as the best in Spain. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

With the Covid-19 pandemic, hospitals have dominated headlines in the last couple of years.

Health workers have also been put under immense amounts of pressure when trying to assist patients with other conditions other than Covid-19.


But despite the delays that many people have had to endure to be treated in 2020 and 2021, Spain is still widely recognised as having one of the world’s best public healthcare systems.

According to the Hospital Excellence Index, prepared by Spain’s Institute of Governance and Applied Economics Coordinates, there is a hierarchy when it comes to hospitals.

They’ve carried out an analysis of hospitals throughout Spain, both public and private, based on the survey answers of nearly 2,000 health professionals.

They ranked the quality of care, hospital service, patient well-being and satisfaction, innovative capacity, personalised attention and use of resources as well as commitment to quality and sustainability.

Madrid and Barcelona dominate the rankings – see them below:

1. Jiménez Díaz Foundation, Madrid

According to the ranking, the Jiménez Díaz Foundation is the best hospital in Spain. Forbes magazine also included the Foundation in its list of the 20 best hospitals in the world, the only Spanish hospital on the list. 

2. La Paz, Madrid

Madrid also takes the second spot. La Paz is a world class hospital particularly renowned for its specialisms cardiovascular disease, hematology, neonatology and organ transplantation.

3. Gregorio Marañón, Madrid

Another Madrid hospital takes third place . Not only is this Marañón’s first top three ranking, but it is the first time Madrid has rounded out the top three since the rankings began. Marañón ranks first in Spain for Pulmonology and Cardiac Surgery, second in Cardiology and Neurosurgery and third in Endocrinology.

4. Hospital Clínic de Barcelona

A consistent performer in the ranks, last year Newsweek ranked it in the top 25 globally, and the Barcelona-based university hospital is known for its strength in research and teaching.

5. Hospital Universitario Valle de Hebrón, Barcelona

A huge hospital based in Barcelona, the Valle de Hebrón ‘campus’ is split up into five centres, and sees a staggering 1.2 million patients a year.

6. University Hospital Quironsalud, Madrid

One of Spain’s biggest private hospitals, ​​this Madrid centre boasts 39 medical and surgical specialties.

7. La Fe University and Polytechnic Hospital, Valencia

Not only has La Fe moved up a ranking over the last year, but it’s the only non Madrid or Barcelona based hospital in the top 10, and is known not only for seeing thousands of patients a day, but for its strong reputation in research and teaching.

8. Hospital Clínico Universitario San Carlos, Madrid

Another large Madrid based hospital of over 800 beds, it is linked to the famous Complutense University of Madrid.

9. Hospital Ruber Internacional, Madrid

Part of Madrid’s Quironsalud group, Ruber Internacional is an ‘integrated’ hospital that specialises in surgical procedures, and has a renowned International Dermatological Clinic. 

10. Hospital Quirónsalud Barcelona

Rounding out the top 10, Hospital Quirónsalud Barcelona is known for its international approach: they offer multilingual services and have agreements with many of the world’s leading medical insurers.

READ ALSO: What are the best private healthcare options in Spain for Brits?

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For members


Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Despite being known for its year-long sunny weather, Spain is the EU country with the fewest homes with natural light, often intentionally. Why is it that when it comes to spending time at home, Spaniards seem to love being in the dark?

Why are Spanish homes so dark?

Spain – the land of sunshine. The country gets between 2,500 and 3,000 hours of sun per year on average, almost double the 1,600 hours the UK gets, for example.

You’d probably assume that finding a bright apartment in such a sunny country would be a piece of cake, but unless you’re renting or buying a modern home, it might be trickier than you realise.

More than one in ten Spaniards live in dwellings they feel are “too dark” – the highest percentage among all EU countries, according to figures from Eurostat.

As far as dark homes go, Spain is head and shoulders above the EU average of 5.9 percent, and higher than other nations with a high rate of gloomy homes such as France (9.5 percent), Malta (9.4 percent) and Hungary (7.7 percent).

At the other end of the brightly lit spectrum, it’s no surprise to see that countries with cloudier skies and darker winters such as Norway, Slovakia, Estonia, Czechia and the Netherlands have homes that let in plenty of natural light, and yet Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean neighbours Italy and Cyprus do make the most of the readily available light.

Dark homes are almost twice as common in Spain as the EU average. Graph: Eurostat.

So why are Spanish homes so dark?

Is it a case of hiding away from the sun, and keeping cool during the summer months? Or is it something else? 

Apartment blocks

The vast majority of Spaniards live in apartments as opposed to houses, often in tightly-packed cities with narrow streets.

In fact, in Spain 64.6 percent of the population lives in flats or apartments, second in the EU after Latvia (65.9 percent.)

By contrast the EU wide average is 46.1 percent.

By nature of apartment living, Spanish homes tend to get less sunlight.

Depending on whether they have an exterior or interior flat, they might not actually have a single window in the flat that faces the street.

If the apartment is on a lower floor, the chances of it receiving natural light are even lower. Internal patios can help to solve this to some extent, but only during the mid day and early afternoon hours. 

why are spanish homes so dark

A dark, narrow street in the centre of Palma de Mallorca. Photo: seth0s/Pixabay

Hot summers

During Spain’s scorching summer months, there’s no greater relief than stepping into a darkened apartment building lobby and feeling the temperature drop. 

In southern Spain, and in coastal regions, Spanish buildings were traditionally built to protect against the heat and hide away from the long sunny hours. White walled exteriors and dark interiors help to keep homes cool.

It’s often the case that bedrooms are put in the darkest, coolest part of the apartment, sometimes with just a box-window to allow for a breeze but no sunlight.

Spaniards’ obsession with blinds and shutters

Spain is pretty much the only country in Europe whose inhabitants still use blinds (persianas), even during the colder winter months.

In this case, rather than it just being down to keeping homes cool during the sweltering summer months, their usage is intrinsic to Spain’s Moorish past and the fact that they provide a degree of privacy from nosy neighbours. By contrast, northern Europeans with Calvinist roots such as the Dutch keep the curtains open to let in natural light and because historically speaking, keeping the inside of homes visible from the street represents not having anything to hide. But in Spain, the intimacy of one’s home is sacrosanct, especially when the neighbour in the apartment building opposite is less then ten metres away.

Keeping the blinds or shutters down also has the advantage of making it easier to have an afternoon nap (the siesta, of course) or to sleep in late after a long night out on the town. 

In any case, it seems hard to believe for some foreigners that many Spaniards are happy to live in the dark whilst spending time at home, regardless of whether they’re sleeping or not. 

A byproduct of this? Dark, gloomy homes.

why are spanish homes so dark

Spaniards aren’t fans of airing their dirty laundry, at least metaphorically speaking. Blinds have historically provided the privacy they’ve wanted from their homes. Photo: Quino Al/Unsplash

The long, dark corridors

Spanish apartments have plenty of quirks that seem odd to outsiders, from the light switches being outside of the room, the aforementioned shutters, the bottles of butane and last but not least, the never-ending corridors. 

Most Spanish homes built in the 19th and 20th century include these long pasillos running from the entrance to the end of the flat. They were meant to provide a separation between the main living spaces and the service rooms (kitchen, bathroom etc), easy access to all and better airing and light capabilities. But when the doors to the rooms are closed as often happens, these corridors become the opposite of what was intended: dark and airless.

Navigating these windowless corridors at night is akin to waking around blindfolded.

dark corridor spain

Light at the end of the tunnel? Dark corridors are a common feature of Spanish homes. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Are Spaniards rethinking their dark homes?

Times are changing, and modern designs are experimenting with more spacious, light-filled, open-plan apartments, especially as the Covid-19 lockdown forced many Spaniards to reconsider their abodes. 

It’s also increasingly common to see property ads stressing that the property is diáfano, which means that natural light enters the home from all sides.

However, the vast majority of Spanish homes are still gloomy for the most part, often intentionally.

A combination of traditional building styles, the crowded nature of apartment block living, the use of shutters, the desire to keep homes private, and the long windowless corridors mean Spanish flats can seem dark if you’re new to the country, and with good reason.

Ultimately, it is worth remembering that Spanish society is one that largely lives its life outdoors. Living in smaller apartments, Spaniards generally spend less time at home and more time out and about in the street.

Native to a hot and sunny country as they are, Spaniards’ homes are a place of rest, relaxation and, crucially, sleep.

Spanish people have enough sunlight and heat in their lives; they like to live, therefore, in homes designed to keep cool and dark.

READ ALSO: Why are Spanish homes so cold?