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Al-Andalus, the Route of the " hammams "


In the anxious search to discover the hammams or public baths, some in ruins, others forgotten, or at best, rehabilitated, we take again the route, and in this second stage, we decide to ascend to the Albaycín. Ibn Zamrak the poet of the Alhambra says goodbye. We insist to get his accompaniment, because The Albaycín, expressed better than any other place, the multicultural spirit that we are feeling in Granada. He agree and we cross toward the other bank of the Darro River, where the well known moorish neighborhood spreads over a hill.

The Albaycín connected directly with the Alhambra by the Puente de Cadi, or "of the judge" and it was seat of the court of the Ziries kings during XI century, being as prints of this period, the remains of the walls of its Citadel, the Monaita Door, Elvira Door and the Arco de las Pesas, the Arab Baths, of XI century with roman, visigoths and califares capitals. Besides the Palace Dar -Al -Horra, belonging to the moorish king's mother Boabdil, and from whose large windows the high part of Albaycín is contemplated, declared by the Unesco, in 1993, Patrimony of the Humanity.

Today an enormous labyrinth of hidden squares, mosques turned into churchs and doors of the muslim time, are the rests from this old medina. It is a place where the Arab atmosphere of Granada is better perceived. I. Zamrak could not imagine that, after centuries, muslim youths rub shoulders with granadian poets and painters. Through its whitewashed slopes the bohemians makes the appointments, the adolescents that go to bed very late greet each other, the early rising clergymen, without forgetting to the gipsy artists that inhabit the magnificent cármenes, grenadine house par excellence. Among the tall walls of the Albaycín the the palatine garden and the housing of staggered rooms are combined.

We walk around its steep side streets, we observe how the (aljibes) cisterns, used to supply water to the population, constitute one of the identity signs of the neighborhood. The word aljive comes from arabic al-yubb (the well) and the same as the roman cisterns, its function was to store the water that it came both from the rain or from the canals. The material used for the construction of these cisterns was brick or cement, sometimes both materials were used in the same cistern. The consumption of the water was regulated by laws. The Darro River was the supplyer of water.

The conversation with Ibn Zamrak is interesting and illustrative. We ask him why if the water was so important in the muslim habits, we don't find the public baths. The poet makes an affirmative expression and it points out a place: the Carrera del Darro, one of the most attractive place in the city non only by his environment but for the magnificent buildings of the most different styles, typology, functions: convents, churches, elegant houses, arab baths....... La Carrera del Darro run parallel to the right bank of the Darro River, between the Albaycin and the hill of the Alhambra. There come togheter streets that contain buildings of great interest, were inhabited by important personalities related to the history and the art of Granada such as Mariana Pineda or Pedro Duque de Cornejo.

In La Carrera del Darro we are next to the Barrio de los Axares -of the Health or Delight. And in this privileget area of Granada, at last we find the most important hammam of Al Andalus: El Bañuelo..


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