Arab Baths in Palma de Mallorca

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During the 10th century the conquerors of Mallorca discovered a new pleasure within the walls of the old city of Palma. The Arab baths made it possible to immerse the body into the waters in a relaxing way.

Nowadays, the irrigation of gardens and golf courses exhaust the water supply quickly without being a problem for our resources; but centuries ago, it was in a very different matter. The lack of rivers and the scarcity of rain in the Mediterranean made the supply of fresh water a precious issue.

When the Moors came to the island, they were captivated by the vegetation in the northern mountains. In the Arab baths they tried to reproduce the same scenario with bushes, trees, plants and flowers. Small but beautiful, they grew everywhere.

Water was one of the most precious commodities of the island however it did not prevent the newcomers from using it. In fact, the Arabs were the instigators of a sustainable development for both the country and the city. They brought with them irrigation systems for orange, lemon and peach trees and they are considered to be the creators of the lush fields of Raixa and Alfàbia, two of the gardens of the island.

The Moors called Palma Madina Mayurqa, and during the 10th century the Arab occupation began to transform the city which had previously existed for so long. The walls shielded the private residences of Muslim nobles, who lived in the city, from prying eyes.

In the plaza where the baths are located, there are twelve columns that stand as proof of their own the age and history. It is strange to realise that this area was built from the recycling of former elements, such as capitals from other periods, of which the Arabs knew how to make use of them.

The baths were situated not far from the cathedral and were not only used to escape from the dirt of the dusty streets in the old quarter of the city, but also to get a bath of spiritual purity in an atmosphere of peace and calm.

Unfortunately, the Arab baths are only partially preserved and today there are no remains of the cold bath room. The warm bath room still exists with its double floor through which warm water and steam circulated.

The baths were also used as a meeting place for men and women, although they were segregated. Here they found some relax after a hard days work. We know that there were two types of baths: the calendarium was a type of steam bath, whereas the tepidarium was a bath with ice.

Walking through the corridors of the Arab baths is like getting immersed in another age, when water was a luxury and baths, a gift.

 

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