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Arab baths in Spain: architectural and spiritual heritage

The Arab baths are one of the most authentic architectural legacies of Al-Andalus, inspired by the Roman baths, they are made up of several rooms in which the temperature varies from very cold to extremely hot, with the help of underground boilers. They used to be built near the mosques of the Andalusí medina.

The hammam (bath) was a public, civic and religious building: citizens went to the bath to wash, get a haircut, and receive massages... and it was also an important and spiritual meeting place. The Muslims gave the water a religious meaning as a purifying element: with the bath, they freed themselves from those acts carried out against the precepts of the Koran.

 

Hammam Al Andalus - Málaga

Today many of the Arab baths have become one of the essential visits in many cities in Spain. They especially have a strong presence in Andalusia, but we can find Arab baths in other parts of the peninsula. Hammams are usually in central areas, occupying unique buildings of a certain historical value and decorated with Islamic motifs. Your visit conveys serenity, a certain peace and tranquillity. Domes that let light escape, rooms divided by corridors, Arabic decoration, mosaics, patios, fountains, flowing water, soft lighting, scents of essences and flowers. The hammam experience involves all our senses, in addition to cleansing the body, it is the relaxation of the spirit.

 

Purify body and mind 

The objective of the Arab baths was to guarantee the physical and spiritual purity of the faithful who accessed them. The believers washed their entire bodies and the reigning silence invited reflection as a previous and essential step to proceed with the prayers. That feeling of calm and peace is one of the hallmarks that continues to exist today: citizens go to these places to relax and put stress aside, and obviously, phones are more than prohibited.

Arab baths of Cordoba

Natural soaps and essential oils were used in the original al-hamma, and that is another of the legacies that their contemporary versions have wanted to maintain. Rosemary, lavender, violet, orange blossom, red amber, roses... infinite aromas to awaken all your senses. The aromas are essential to contribute to the spiritual recovery that is intended in them. The dim light, the tea offered to users, the sound of water and piped music with Arabic melodies and the different sensations that are perceived fully activate the 5 senses, this stimulation is necessary to achieve the objectives of relaxation and calm: a sensory journey of centuries of culture.

Hammam Al Andalus - Madrid

 

 

 

Hammam Air Seville

 Aire Ancient Baths Seville

The reality is that the current Arab baths have fully respected the essence of what they once represented. We can enjoy a much-improved version and in our country, we can find several historic buildings that were once Arab baths, especially in the southeast of the peninsula, although most were lost after the Christian conquest or were remodelled for other uses. Some of the best preserved are the Baths of the Angel in Toledo, El Bañuelo and the House of the Tombs or Arab Baths of Hernando de Zafra in Granada, the Baths of the Almirante in Valencia, the Arab Baths of Palma de Mallorca, the Baths of Ronda and the Baths of the Jewish Quarter in Baza.

After reading this article, you just have to take the calendar and start preparing a getaway to any of the hammams that we have presented to you, who more or less deserve a tribute.

 

 The layout of the Arab bath: hammam

The structure of the traditional Arab bath used to be made up of between 3 and 4 rooms:

· Al-bayt al masiaj: This room served as a lobby and was where visitors were received.

· Al-bayt al-wastaní: Warm room.

· Al-bayt al-sajún: Hot room

· Al-burma: Service area.

The temperature was changing from one room to another and it was in the central room where he used to spend most of the time. High temperatures relax and allow the opening of the skin pores, facilitating deep cleansing of the dermis.

What is left of this distribution today? The essence of the hammam is maintained, but rooms have been added: showers, rest areas, different water jets and countless details that move away from the simplicity of the al-hamma of centuries ago but have been adapted to the new times and the new needs of its users.

There is a place that 100% exemplifies this composition: the Aire de Sevilla hammam – also present in Almería, Barcelona, New York, Chicago, Paris and London. From the building, it occupies an impressive Sevillian palace house, to the rooms that make it up, including a Jacuzzi with views of the Giralda. there to go You must go.

Islamic buildings are characterized more by their decoration than by their structure. There are four basic elements: calligraphy, plant, geometric and figurative motifs. They form a profuse decoration, characterized by horror vacui – fear of space.

 

 

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