When you go on holiday, you’ll often want to take advantage of some lavish spa and relaxation treatments, and why wouldn’t you? It’s your holiday and you’ve earned the right to relax. Of course many hotels and resorts offer facilities for pampering their guests, and you can have a facial made from an obscure mud, or be massaged so vigorously that you might feel like you’ve been beaten up. Sometimes traditional spa and relaxation treatments are the best and this is perhaps why the Arabic Bath (which is also known as a Turkish Bath) remains a popular option despite the fact that it has been around since Roman times. You might think that it’s an overstatement to call the Arabic Bath a popular activity, since the number of baths seem to have dwindled over the recent years, and yet there’s one part of the world where they remain in high demand and are actively sought out by visitors and locals who are looking for a traditional, refreshing form of wellness and relaxation. Arabic Baths are scattered all over southern Spain, and while some of them are fairly new, a number of them date back to the 1400’s, but not to worry – they’ve been modernized since then.
Arabic Baths and Spain: An Introduction
Andalusia, in the south of Spain, was the heart of the Moorish Empire, and their traditional style of Arabic Bath is still practised in the region to this day. The baths served a valuable purpose in their infancy, as they allowed citizens to actually clean themselves (because in-home plumbing had yet to be invented), as well as serving as a type of community forum, where issues of the day could be discussed. It could be argued that the Arabic Bath was also a basic, early method of detoxification, since the four pronged process was designed to remove toxins from the body while undergoing the relaxation treatment. The bath starts with some time in a room filled with hot warm air, designed to encourage sweating and the subsequent release of toxins. The next stage is an even hotter room, which is often steamy, followed by an invigorating plunge in cold water, and of course, a long relaxing massage.
Granada: The City of Baths
Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and just over 41 miles from the Mediterranean, Granada is a compact city of around 240,000 residents, and is home to some fabulous baths that do a great job of being both a museum of sorts, as well as a health spa. El Bañuelo dates from the 11th century, and has the distinction of being one of the few baths that were left intact after the religious and political turmoil of the 15th century. It’s no longer possible to bathe in El Bañuelo, although the city offers countless Arabic Baths, and the loveliest is probably the bath at Alhambra (a palace and fortress that dates back to 899AD). The Arabic Bath have almost become an industry unto itself in Granada.
Around 80 minutes drive from Granada you’ll find the town of Málaga, on the Costa del Sol, with its ritzy cousin, the town of Marbella, a further 45 minutes along the coast. The Moorish tradition was also practised in these coastal towns, and similar to Granada, some of them are working baths, whereas some of them are purely for looking. If you want an actual bath, be sure to visit El Hamman on Calle Tomás de Cózar in Málaga.
Andalusia is not all about the Arabic Baths, though. The whole region has its own history and culture, every city has amazing attractions that deserve to be seen. This might be the reason why bloggers keep talking about Andalusia’s cities as best destinations in Europe.
About the Author
This post was written by Gaby Carreira, who is working as an intern for the Eureka Network of blogs and has recently started her own personal travel blog about Marbella Lifestyle, the city where she is from in Spain.