What few people realise and even fewer talk about, especially now – when in 2017, the religion of Islam has been infused with the highly charged emotion of extremist thinking – is that the Moors – or African Muslims who invaded Spain in the 8th century, were a highly intelligent, sophisticated demographic of people who brought technology, enlightenment and advanced thinking to a Spain, ransacked by backward pre-enlightened ideology.
The Moors crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and claimed the Iberian Peninsula as their own, settling in and thriving and prospering for eight hundred years.
They brought to Spain superior knowledge of astrology, mathematics, engineering, town planning, and an advanced civil society evidenced by the remains of their palaces and mansions which still stand. Europe, including Spain, was still languishing in the dark ages, but the Moors had it all going on, centuries before any Industrial Revolution and Enlightenment in Europe.
Bloodshed ensued, of course, but what isn’t talked about is the beating cultural and scientific heart that the Moors left in Spain. To this day, the legacy of the Moors remains.
Most people will be familiar with the term ‘hamam’ (hammam) or Arabian bathhouse and these hamams were an integral part of Moorish life.
The Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid is a love letter to the aesthetic sensibilities of the Moors in Spain, and a visit to this gorgeous bathhouse is an absolute must when in Madrid.
Arabian bathhouses, in their day, were designed to calm the mind, soothe the body and refresh the senses. A daily visit to a hamam was a social event, a restorer of sanity, a place to think, to exchange ideas, to catch up on gossip, to meet friends and to reconnect with a deeper spirituality in us all. Segregated for men and women, locals loved their hamams and in an age when houses did not possess private bathrooms, hamams were as crucial as they were functional.
The Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid is located in the historic part of Old Madrid and recreates the ancient atmosphere of the Moorish hamams in Spain to perfection. Visitors can wander through the different rooms at their leisure and relax in the pools – cool or hot – taking all the time in the world to reconnect with what is important; a sense of self, tranquillity and deep relaxation.
Calle Atocha 14, 28012
Junto a la Plaza Mayor
The story @ Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid
Day breaks, and the city slowly begins to stir. The cafes and bars are setting up for business and the centre is preparing to come alive, but I’m about to take a step back, a step back in time, into another world.
As sun comes up in the city I’ll be stepping back into the darkness. Going underground where candle-lit earthen tunnels lead to exotic Arabian delights, into the depths of the Hammam Al Ándalus Madrid, where steam fills the air and the sound and scents of old Arabia warms the soul and soothes the mind. First, a dip into the warm spa to begin the unwinding process; next to the hot baths to sit back and soak up the old world atmosphere; then a plunge in the icy cold dipping pool to open the pores and fire up the senses.
A moment to reflect with some mint tea before heading off to the sauna room. Now to prepare for the massage to complete the experience, but first I need to flip through the sample scent boxes to choose my body oil. Taking my time to decide, I finally narrow it down. Red Amber …..or Rose. I choose Red Amber, loving its earthy scent. By now the hustle and bustle of the outside world has faded and I am completely transported. The mind and body are at last beginning to align.