Arab Baths In Granada

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Arab Baths In Granada

People who have been alive in the last 60 years probably don't realise how lucky we are to be able to just go into our own private bathroom and turn on the hot taps and have a shower or a bath. Imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago when copper tubes, electricity and water heaters did not exist. In those times, if you were not a Sultan or an Emir the only way of easily getting really clean was to go to a public bathhouse. In the 1980's when I visited Morocco, almost nobody had a private modern bathroom with hot water. I rented many apartments and none of them had hot water. On the other hand, in every village, there was a house with a pile of wood outside. The outside of the house would be almost black due to the wood smoke. The wood was used to heat up the water in the boiler room. This nondescript dirty-looking house performed the important function of being the public bath house. By the way, the fire which heated the water was also used to heat a massive oven which was used by all the local housewives. You could see children carrying bread or tagine pots around to the public oven from their house to be cooked in the public oven. For a few dirham, the local people could do their baking in the neigbourhood oven. I haven't been to Morocco in a while, I wonder if this system still exists.

In the bathhouse I went to near Fez, there were lots of pools of water at differing temperatures. The lighting was very dim, probably candle light. For a few dirhams extra, you could have a rub down and a massage. First of, all the masseur put on some mittens which were covered in soap and gave a good exfoliating rub down. Then, without asking if I wanted it, the masseur somehow took hold of my entire body and using his body as a type of fulcrum did something to my back which made loud cracking sounds. I think that this is the equivalent of cracking your fingers. Fortunately, this treatment did me no harm and the sound of my back cracking was very satisfying. To get rid of all the soap, we were rinsed down with buckets of warm water like elephants at the zoo. Afterwards for several hours we felt like a million dirhams especially after a mint tea poured from a height from a Moroccan silver teapot with a small biscuit.

The reason why I am explaining this to you is because the same system of Arab baths or Hammam Baths would have been very popular in Granada for many centuries. Over the last 20 years or so this tradition has been revived and now it is possible to go to modern Hammam baths in Granada. Of course this modern experience is much more refined than the experiences I have described above. The water is heated by gas and nobody will give you an impromptu back cracking session with dubious heath benefits. All health and safety requirements for hygiene will have been passed but the same concepts of pools of water at different temperatures, massages, mint tea, dim lighting, relaxation and feeling like a million euros afterwards still apply. It is possible to book a hammam bath in Granada. Just Click on this link




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This photograph is part of the following albums:
Albayzin Water




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