The bath houses

The bath houses

Sala templada del Baño califal del Alcázar andalusí (AST).
Temperate room of the Caliphal Bath of the Andalusian Alcazar (AST).

In the Islamic world, the bath (ḥammām) was soon established as a hygienic, purifying, social and therapeutic space where Muslims could enjoy the pleasures of water, perform their ablutions, converse or simply relax. There were different types of bath houses depending on their ownership, layout and size, but they usually had an entrance and/or a dressing room, a latrine, a cold room, a warm room, a hot room and a service area and boilers.

Al-Maqqarī indicated that in the Cordoba of ‘Abd al-Raḥmān III there were about 300 baths, and that figure was doubled under the Almanzor government. However, a few remains of these establishments have been discovered so far. The best well-preserved examples are within the walls. The Baths of the Andalusi Citadel (Alcazar) are the only ones whose most of their rooms have practically remained unchanged in their plan and elevation. The first ḥammām of the Alcazar was constructed in the 10th century; later, during the Almohad period, a new bath was built annexed to the previous one.

Reconstrucción ideal del Baño de Santa María (VÁZQUEZ, 2016).
Reconstruction of the Bath of Santa María (VÁZQUEZ, 2016).

Another significant establisment is the Bath of Santa Maria, in Velázquez Bosco street, which still preserves -with successive changes and reforms- its warm and hot rooms and part of the cold space. Not far from there, between Cara and Cardinal Gonzalez streets, the Bath of the Pescadería was sited. The complex has been dated in the 12th century.

Most of the excavated baths have been located in the suburban areas of the ancient Qurṭuba. In the western sector, several private baths from the Umayyad period were integrated into large dwellings. Despite having different morphological and architectural characteristics, all of them have at least one warm room. In the Axerquia sector, at the opposite side of the city, the Baths of San Pedro, in Carlos Rubio street, were erected during the Almoravid period, in the middle of the 11th century..

Vista aérea y planta del baño privado excavado en una vivienda de los arrabales occidentales (CLAPÉS, 2013).
Aerial view and private bathroom plant excavated in a house of the western suburbs (CLAPÉS, 2013).

Bibliography

ANGULO ÍÑIGUEZ, D. (1945): “Baños árabes de la Pescadería, de Córdoba”, Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 117, pp. 53-55.

CLAPÉS SALMORAL, R. (2013): “Un baño privado en el arrabal occidental de Madinat Qurtuba”, Arqueología y Territorio Medieval, 20, pp. 97-128.

FUERTES, M. C., RODERO, S. y ARIZA, J. (2007), “Nuevos datos urbanísticos en el área de la Puerta del Palatium de Córdoba”, Rómula, 6, pp. 173-210.

MARFÍL RUIZ, P. (2004), “Los Baños del Alcázar Califal de Córdoba: resultados de la intervención arqueológica realizada en el año 2000” en GÓMEZ NAVARRO, S. (Coord.): El agua a través de la Historia, Córdoba, pp. 49-75.

MARFIL RUIZ, P. (2001): “Urbanismo cordobés” en VIGUERA MOLINS, M . y CASTILLO, C. (Coords.): El esplendor de los Omeyas cordobeses: la civilización musulmana de Europa occidental, Granada, pp. 360-371.

MARFIL RUIZ, P. y PENCO VALENZUELA, F. (1997): “Resultados sucintos de la intervención arqueológica de urgencia en el Hammam del Alcázar Califal, Campo Santo de los Mártires s/n (Córdoba). 9 de Noviembre de 1993 a 10 de febrero de 1994”, Anuario Arqueológico de Andalucía 1993, vol. III, pp. 91-101.

MURILLO REDONDO, J. F.; CASAL GARCÍA, M. T. y CASTRO DEL RÍO, E. (2004): “Madīnat Qurtuba. Aproximación al proceso de formación de la ciudad emiral y califal a partir de la información arqueológica”, Cuadernos de Madīnat al-Zahrā’, 5, pp. 257-290.

VALLEJO TRIANO, A. (1987), “El baño próximo al Salón de Abd al-Rahman III” en Cuadernos de Madinat al-Zahra, 1, pp. 141-165.

VÁZQUEZ NAVAJAS, B. (2016): Arqueología hidráulica en los arrabales occidentales de la Córdoba omeya, Tesis doctoral, Universidad de Córdoba, Córdoba.