What do a Islamic bath in Seville and Tapas have in common? Well since very recently, we were totally surprise that they do share a lot, at least in Seville. This city is still full of surprises, and keeps on giving. This time it transport us back to its Islamic past, more specific, the Almohad period. The more you dig, the more you’re bound to discover.
As it happens, due to the pandemic, all tourism shut down. Bars, restaurants, flamenco shows, souvenir shops etc.. They all had to close doors as no tourist came. Sad to say, Seville and Andalusia rely too much on tourism, and, shifting this situation takes time and the administrations have to be willing to commit. But that’s from another subject.
One bar instead, resolved to finally do a long postponed renovation. So long overdue, that the previous intervention was done in the 20’s, as in 1920’s!! Almost 100 years ago. Perfect timing then, No tourist, no business and plenty of time for renovations, because this things take time. The idea the owners had was to do a small renovation, but, oh surprise! As the workers removed the stucco and the first skylight appeared, they knew straight away that they had to rip off the bandaid as soon as possible. And they hit the jackpot.
Behind it’s walls, they just uncovered the remains of a Hammam or Islamic bath dated from the XII Century, basically, has the same age as the Giralda Tower. Built around the same time.
Technically the remains are two rooms,
One with a quadrangular plan covered with an eight-paneled dome supported by pointed trunks that rests on four columns. The lateral galleries are divided into nine spaces in which vaulted and edged vaults alternate, separated by transverse arches. The second room opens to the western side. It is a rectangular room covered with a barrel vault.
The story goes like this:
Back in the 1928, Vicente Traver was the architect in charge of a hotel project to be located there, He knew about the Islamic remains, but decided to cover them instead. The hotel was never built, they planned instead a bar. So since then, it’s always been busy.
Fast forward to 2020 and due to the pandemic, the owners decide to finally do that renovation. Unlike the Property Brothers (yes, i do watch that TV show) they didn’t find any asbestos. Instead, they uncovered two rooms, believed to be the tepidarium and frigidarium and most important, original paintings decorating the arches!
They had to call archaeologists to continue with the process, and they’ve done a fantastic job!
They’ve dated, restored and protected the findings with a special coating that allows them to be exposed, but not as a museum, where the temperature is controlled and the O2 as well, but as a bar. Yup, this is still a private property. And i’m not sure what could happen, because, we’re talking about a Historic Landmark.
The finding also includes 88 skylights used originally to control the temperature of the bath. And the original arches and vaults.
As soon as the news broke out, the owners where overwhelmed with petitions from newspapers, tv and radio stations from all over the country. And the people from Seville as well. So the owners decided to host an open day. And this past weekend (6-7 March) and an incredible turnout, more than 1500 sevillanos stood in line for more than 50 minutes to admire the uncovering. A big number of them said that they it’s been a long time since they’ve visited that bar, because it was always full. Now that is empty
Please do notice that I do say uncovering and not discovery of the islamic bath. Because it was well documented the existence of the baths at leats since 1996. So now, you have one more reason to visit Seville. Where else can you enjoy a delicious tapa immerse and surrounded by History? Absolutely glorious!