Elche - Baños Arabes
kind of trip :
* excavations
entrance fee :
* normal price : 1 euro
* free entry on Sundays and for kids < 6 years
* free for teachers and disabled
opening hours :
* Tuesday to Saturday : 10:00 am - 2:00 pm and 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm
* Sunday and public Holidays : 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
* closed on Mondays
* closed : 24/12 - 25/12 - 31/12 and 01/01
contact :
* website : www.visitelche.com
* phone : (+34) 965 452 887
address :
* Paseo de les Eres de Santa Llucia 14, 03202 Elche
* GPS : 38°16'02.9"N 0°41'46.4"W - decimal 38.267463, -0.696226
distance :
* Torrevieja : 39 km, 40 minutes
* Guardamar : 30 km, 40 minutes
* La Marina : 19 km, 24 minutes
Baños Arabes
In the neighborhood of la Torre de la Calahorra we go looking for los Baños Arabes. Right in front of la Plaza de la Merced our search ends in the basement of el Convento de Santa Lucia.
The Arab baths of Elche date from around 1150. They are not the only Muslim baths in Elche, but the most important. That is because the baths are close to the mosque and la Lucentina, the main city gate of the city. In this way, people from outside Elche could wash themselves before they entered the Medina and the mosque. In addition, these Arab baths are also the best preserved ones. Although best preserved? They look pretty rough. It looks like they were cut out of the rocks. Without further knowledge of the baths, you can hardly imagine how sophisticated they have ever been.
The Arab baths in the 12th century symbolized the economic prosperity of the city. It was a place where people could wash themselves before they went to the prayer building, but also a room where people could relax. In addition to the hygienic, therapeutic and purifying and relaxing function, the baths also had a significant social function.
What we see in Elche is only part of a larger whole. The baths are divided into three parallel rooms, a hot, a warm and a cool room. The rooms are separated by arches and columns, covered with arched vaults. First of all, they entered a lobby where users could undress and store their clothes. After dressing, a silk or cotton cloth was wrapped around the waist and shoes made of wood were put on to prevent slipping on slippery and wet floors. The next room was the room with the hottest bath, also called the bayt-al-sajun and also the best preserved part. Eight pillars support this space. Hot air circulated between the various pillars, coming out of the oven through an underground tunnel. We know such a heating system today as floor heating. These Arab baths were the basis of the current sauna. Men and women were not allowed in the baths at the same time. Fixed times were agreed upon when the men or women would have access to the bathhouse.
In 1997 the Arab baths were opened to the public as a museum. A visit to the baths includes sound and light guidance. A voice tells the story of the Arab baths, the use and ritual, etc. while the lighting always focuses on the rooms in question. The audio tape is available in Spanish, English and French.
Hint : on Sundays the entrance is free.

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