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Al-Andalus, the Route of the " hammams "


Also known as Baño del Nogal (Hammam al Yawza) or of the Axares, this last name was adopted after of that that had the neighborhood when it was built, it was very praised by the muslim poets, as much for their climate as for the beautiful buildings that were built in this neighborhood, being its limits the Puente del Cadi, the Door of Guadix (located at the end of the Paseo de los Tristes) and the street of San Juan de los Reyes.

It is the " hammam " public bath most complete of the Al Andalus and the oldest in Granada, it was built in the XI century, in the time of the king zirí Badis. We marvel before this cultural jewel, unique and today recovered. The specialists of the thermal baths in Al Andalus say that it was part of the Mezquita del Nogal and that its columns and capitals were recovered from the ruins of visigotic and roman buildings and even of the remains of the palace of the Caliphs of Córdoba, Medina Al-Zahara.

Also that slaves opened the glasses of the openings in the dome, to release the steam when the temperature of the interior became excessive for the bathers. The water was channeled by tubes made up of inserted segments made of baked clay, toward the warm rooms, temperate rooms and cold ones of the hammam, among which the bathers wandering, following the roman pathern


According to I.Zamrak, the baths proliferated over the whole territory of Al-Andalus, not only in the city centres, but also in the rural ones -large or small - from that is deduced how important the water was for those muslim-andalusíes - in the case of bath, it had an double objective: corporal and spiritual cleaning. Like in the Christian religion the water is a purification symbol, cleaning of sins and regeneration. For this reason after the bath, the believers became liberated from those acts carried out against the precept of the Koran.

The baths also speak about the neatness of the muslim people, as the great poet testifies Ibn Al -Jatib and against the other poet, also of the time, Ibn Jaldun that considered the inhabitants of rural areas untidy.

Apart from the private ones, the Hammam (bath) was a public, civic building and in some way also religious. The inhabitants of the neighborhood went to the bath to wash themselves, to cut the hair, to depilate, to receive massages, besides serving as meeting place. There was a different schedule for men and women, these only abandoned the home for the weekly visits to the cemeteries or to attend the bath one or twice a mont, the hammam was also used to carried out the girlfriend's preparations for the wedding.

The women dressed up, they talked and they even had a snack. Depilatory paste, henna (henna) oil of violets, perfume of musk and jazmím, loamy soap for the hair, antimony to enhance the look (kohol), nut bark to paint the lips and gums... they constituted an authentic cosmetic arsenal for the care and the beauty of the andalusi woman.

The Arab baths used to have three our four rooms, being the most elementary:

  • Al-bayt al maslaj: lobby or zaguán, place to rest.
  • Al-bayt al barid: place for delivery of towels and wooden sandals.
  • Al-bayt al wastani: temperate room.
  • Al-bayt al sajun: warned room.

In order to isolate the interior from the exterior, thick cement walls were used (fatty lime with sand and small stones) and above these wals, the stone or brick vaults were rose with skylight of octogonal or star shape to allow the entrance of the light, the exit of steam and to reduce the vaults weight. The walls were covered with stucco and painted. The water conductions and the vents of smoke were carried out using ceramic pipes.

To study this cultural legacy of Al Andalus accompaniet by the poet Ibn Zamrak was a luxury. To find other public baths in Granada was a success because not only they exist in the enclosure of the Alhambra: Baths del Polinario (at the moment houses Angel Barrios Museum) in the Calle Real and that of the Plaza de Armas, to the feet of the Torre de la Vela; remains of baths are also in the Calle del Agua, in the Albaycín, the La Casa de las Tumbas and the Colegio de las Mercedarias. The " hammams " are declared by Real Order of 30/11/1918 Artistic Architectural Monument, according to the present legislation (Ley del Patrimonio Historico Español of 1985) they have the consideration of Good of Cultural Interest that implies an special protection.


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