The Caliphate Baths are one of those monuments belonging to the great heritage that Cordoba preserves from its Muslim period. Both men and women used to meet here, since for their religion the hammam or public bath was a ritual activity. Find out all the details of this monument in Siente Cordoba.
Cordoba was one of the Caliphate cities with the largest number of public baths; in fact, several authors of the time associated the number of public baths with the importance of the city. This one in particular was ordered to be built by al-Hakam II between 961 and 976. It formed part of the city’s Andalusian Alcazar and underwent numerous alterations over the following centuries.
Discovery and enhancement
We now know that it was discovered around 1691, when they were preparing to excavate the foundations of a building in the Campo de los Santos Mártires. However, it was not put to good use until 1961, when Don Félix Hernández and Don Rafael Castejón ordered an excavation of the area.
After the detailed excavations and the study of all the remains that appeared, in 2006 the Museum of the Baths of the Caliphate Alcazar was inaugurated so that visitors could contemplate the building and understand more about the Muslim culture of those years.
Museum of the Caliphal Baths
The Museum is divided into several rooms, starting with the Vestibule, the Andalusian Bath, the Cold Room, and so on until you reach the boiler and the furnace. These are the details of some of the rooms:
The visit to the museum begins in the hall, where you will be welcomed and given a brief historical introduction to the site, based on illustrative panels and models of the city during the Caliphate period.
From now on, we will begin to learn about the importance of the hammam in the Islamic world, as well as the development it has undergone over the centuries. And the most outstanding example is this particular bath, which belonged to the Caliphate Alcazar of Cordoba.
The second phase of the visit corresponds to the audiovisual room, where we will enjoy the projection of a short film that complements the information received in the museum room.
The video lasts just over five minutes and deals with the importance of the hammam for Islam, its origins and its development. It stresses the need to preserve this type of building in order to strengthen it in the future.
We now move on to a small room where we will familiarise ourselves with the world of the Andalusian Baths. An important aspect of the bath is the cleansing ritual, in which people pray while washing different parts of the body.
Moreover, the bathroom is not only good for physical hygiene but also for mental health, as it is a place for recreation and social interaction. We can see this in its architecture, grouped together and isolated from the outside.
In the following rooms we learn how the hammam was built in the Caliphate period, its structure and its various rooms, and we continue to learn about the purification and cleansing rites mentioned above.
As we can see on the map, this area consists of three main rooms: a cold room, a warmer water room and a hot water room. The largest and most luxurious room is a warm room and a place to meet and relax. The last chamber corresponds to the hot water chamber.
After passing through the different rooms and bathrooms, we return to the entrance hall to take a tour of the rooms in the western part of the museum. We then enter the room dedicated to the Andalusian Garden, presided over by a large painting which is an exceptional reproduction of a taifa garden.
We know that the typical Andalusian garden was intended to reflect the idea of paradise, with a large fountain in the centre. Factors such as irrigation techniques and irrigated agriculture were strongly promoted at this time.
The Taifa Bath
Next, in the room of the Taifa Bath, the aim is to show the architectural development of the baths during the Taifa period. The main characteristics of the building, the possible decoration of this space, its political function, etc. are expressed in colloquial terms.
Of particular interest is the model placed in the centre of the room, which reproduces in detail the devices of the bathroom we are visiting.
In the penultimate room of this visit, we can see the last major extension of the baths, which took place in the Almohad period and is located next to the old Caliphate baths and the aforementioned reception hall. Next to the old furnace from the Caliphate period is the hot-water room, which is covered by a barrel vault with a star-shaped skylight across it.
Boiler and Furnace
Conclude your visit to the Caliphate Baths in the space responsible for generating the heat and hot water necessary for the correct functioning of the baths.
The illustrative picture, supported by numerous phrases simulating heat and fire in a boiler, shows the mechanisms used and the parts into which they are divided. Everything is designed so that the temperature in the different rooms remains constant.
How to visit the baths
You can visit the Arab Baths of the Caliphate Alcazar in the Plaza Campo Santo de los Mártires, just 100 metres from the Mosque and very close to the Alcazar of Cordoba.
Winter opening hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday.
It is only open on Sunday mornings and closed on Mondays.
Summer opening hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday.
It closes half an hour earlier on Sundays and is closed on Mondays.
The prices to visit this facility are very cheap. The price for adults is €3, students €1.5 and children up to the age of 13 are free.