Yesterday, we visited a recreation/experience of a Hammam (Moorish bath house), as it might have been one thousand years ago, with significant Roman influences. They were not ruins, but a recreation of what a Moorish bath house would be like.
Two things that are different from back then. First, it was expensive. Back then a trip to the bath house would be cheaper, so that many more people in the city could have access. Today, the people that own the place want to make money, so the experience costs thirty euros a person and nineteen for kids. One adult would cost as much as an average lunch for our entire family out in Spain (I know, only thirty euros, right. In the U.S. it would have easily cost twice as much).
Second, the water. In Ronda, we went to some Moorish bath house ruins, where we learned about Arab baths. The Moorish style bath houses would be like steam rooms, that you could sit in, relax, reflect, and chat. The Hammam was a bit more of the Roman style of doing things, soaking. There would be like four medium sized pools, all different temperatures. You could sit or lay in them to just think, without much distraction. It is kind of a mixture of the two cultures. The water was Roman, aka soaking, but the tile, and the patterns on the walls, the candles, the cushions were all Moorish.
The experience was so rich. I felt so lucky, to be able to do something like this. The entrance from the street was small, but inside I knew it was going to be very unique. They only let thirty people into the area at a time, to not make it so crowded. We changed and went inside. The whole area was styled like a riad (a Moorish house that has no window facing the outside, but like a house that is a square, and the middle of the square would be a courtyard, and windows from both levels would be looking down and in on it. In this case, the courtyard was the warm pool. The whole area was scented with wonderful, soft, aromas, lit with dim, yellow candles, white curtains softly split different areas, and the floors were wet from people walking around in their bathing suits. The walls had colorful tiles, and if you look up from the warm pool in the center, you see a spire with a little sunlight seeping in through the sides. The walls and pillars around it were decorated like the Alhambra (Jasper’s post from two days ago).
There was a cold plunge room, which has super cold water inside (one of my personal favorites). It really makes you nice and alert. There is a hot stone room, with a white, octagonal stone of marble in the center, which you could lay on (I didn’t really like it because the rock would hit my shoulder blades). There is a hot room, where we had a lot of fun floating and spinning; and the water was not too hot, so it gave you this comforting, tingling sensation when you got in. The room had a little steam in it, and your nostrils would smell hot water all around.
An amazing thing about the whole place was that the air was humid, and the same temperature as the water, so you would cool off or warm up only a couple seconds after getting out of any of the pools. There was a massage room (though we didn’t pay for massages) and a steam room, the hottest of them all. It was full of hot steam (that was a lot more like the hot room in Moorish bath houses) with candles, and I loved it because it was so hot. We walked quickly from the cold plunge room to the hot room, but I was already cool immediately after we got out. If you were tired and bored, you could go upstairs and sip sweet mint tea while playing chess with your friends, and spend hours chatting.
Sadly, we only had ninety minutes there, so we had to go.
I loved how the place made you feel, the tile, with stars and shapes all interlocking in colors of red, blue, yellow, green, and white. The walls were intricately carved with the Arabic script, the balconies had wooden railings, it all put you back one thousand years ago, and made you feel so serene and at peace.
A couple things that made it feel more so were the number of people and the sound of the area. First, they limited it to only 30 people in at a time, which gave a lot more space to be not cramped. Second, the sound. They warned you at the beginning that if you were too loud, that they would kick you out. So we limited our voices to whispers only. Though sometimes you can’t help a splash of water or any other louder-than-whisper-sound every now and then.
I could rave about it for the rest of the day.
Below: Us in the Changing Rooms
Below: Us at the Entrance to the Hammam from the Street
Below: Hot Room; Warm Room; Hot Stone Room
Below: Looking up from the Warm Room