12th century Islamic bathhouse discovered inside Spanish tapas bar

12th century Islamic bathhouse discovered inside Spanish tapas bar
The owners of the Cerveneria Giralda were undertaking a much-needed renovation when they made the discovery.
2 min read
18 February, 2021
Local legends suggested the site could have been an ancient hammam [Twitter]

A tapas bar in the southern Spanish city of Seville has become the unlikely hiding place of a 12th century Islamic bathhouse, The Guardian has reported.

While most visitors have attributed the Cerverceria Giralda tapas bar’s retro appearnce to the Islamic revival style adopted by its 1920's architect, Vincente Traver, some local legends and documents suggested that the site could in fact have been an ancient hammam.

Just in case of any chance discovery, the owners of the Giralda sought the company of archaeologist Alvaro Jimenez during a renovation of the establishment last July.

As they chipped away at the plaster on the building ceiling, they uncovered a skylight in the shape of an eight-pointed star.

Continued efforts revealed an intricate designed dating back to the 12th century, the time when most of Spain, along with Portugal and Morocco was under the rule of Almohad caliphate.

"Decoratively speaking, these baths have the largest amount of preserved decoration of any of the known baths on the Iberian peninsula," Jimenez told The Guardian.

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The archaeologist said the elaborate design is composed of a white lime mortar background, with an engraving of simple geometric shapes.

The first layer entwines with a second - featuring red ochre stars and a rosette - to complement the skylight holes.

While more work is needed to reveal the full extent of its detail and decoration, the newly discovered hammam has been conserved and repaired.

Following the restoration, the Giralda will open its doors in the next two to three weeks.

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