The Arab baths have their origin in the Roman thermal baths. These were public baths attended by those who could not afford to have some at home, especially plebeians. Its function was mainly recreational and also as a meeting place.
The Hammam Andalusí, or Arabic bath in Al-Andalus, was born from the mixture of Roman hydraulic engineering with the contributions made to it during the Islamic period. The experts speak of around 700 public baths spread all over Cordoba, which served both for men and women, each at a specific time of the day. It was not only a place of purification of the body, but above all, a social center where people used to go to interact and rest.
As a general rule, they were distributed in the same way as the Roman baths. First, they would go to a dressing room and from there, to the cold, warm and hot water rooms, where the wood-fired oven was located, which created a kind of sauna, and distributed the heat on the floor through a series of ceramic pipes. The largest room was always the one with warm water, as it was the place where they spent most of their time.
The ornamentation was based on plastered walls with tile skirtings with geometric shapes or marble slabs, all giving a simple and serene air of relax. Ventilation and lighting were discreet, with closed skylights with colored glass, creating a starry sky. As a curiosity, they were forbidden by Queen Isabella the Catholic due to the bad fame that the baths acquired at that time.
Nowadays, Cordoba has several examples. We will highlight some of them such as the archaeological site belonging to the Arab baths of the Caliphate period, which were part of the old Andalusí Alcazar or Caliphate palace. They are just opposite to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, in the Campo Santo de los Mártires square.
As interesting information, we must bear in mind that on Mondays the baths of the Caliphate Alcazar close their doors. The general opening hours are Tuesday to Friday from 8:15 to 20:15, Saturdays from 9:30 to 18:00 and Sundays and public holidays from 8:14 to 14:45. The general rate is 3€; from 0 to 13 years old, admission is free; for students up to 26 years old the price is 1.50€. And one thing you will surely like is that on Thursdays from 18:00 until closing is free (except holidays).
The famous Arab baths of Santa Maria, from the 11th century are located in the famous Jewish quarter of Cordoba. They are exceptionally well preserved and today you can even see a flamenco show inside them at Arte y Sabores de Córdoba.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy some relaxing Arab baths, Hammam Al-Andalus is the ideal place. It is located in the street Corregidor Luis de la Cerda, 51. A spectacular place that, as soon as you pass through its doors, will make you travel to the exotic East.
The Hammam, in addition to having the three general rooms, includes in its route the steam room, a resting room and a room of hot stone, a traditional ritual that was performed in Al-Andalus. It also has a wide range of services.