Baños Arabes


Plaza de Santa Luisa de Marillac. 23004, Jaén How to get

Built in the 11th century, the Arab Baths are located in the basements of the Villardompardo Palace. They have an area of 450 square meters, which makes them probably the largest of all that can be visited in Spain. Judging by the remains of Almohad decoration that are preserved in some of its rooms, they must have been restored towards the end of the 12th century.



Tuesday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Last screening: 9pm. Sundays: 9:15 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Last: 2:15 p.m.

After the conquest of the city in 1246 by Fernando III el Santo, its use continued during the first years of Christian rule. It will be between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries when its function as a bathroom disappears when the Christians established tanneries in its rooms. Proof of this are the remains of its facilities that are still preserved in the Warm and Warm Rooms.

At the end of the 16th century, Don Fernando de Torres y Portugal, Count of Villardompardo and Viceroy of Peru, built his Palace on the Baths, part of them being hidden between the foundations and basements, remaining in this way during the 18th and 19th centuries.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Palace became part of the real estate heritage of the Provincial Council of Jaén, an institution that, between 1901 and 1903, freed the space of several houses adjacent to the building in order to build a Chapel for the Hospice of Women. These works must have affected the remains of the baths that still remained.

In 1913, during the inspection of the Palacio de Villardompardo factory on the occasion of the construction of the Monumental Catalog of Jaén, a small part of the Baths was discovered by Mr. Enrique Romero de Torres.

Just four years later, they were visited by the Professor of Archeology Mr. Manuel Gómez Moreno, who, once the appropriate data had been taken, proposed the property as a National Monument. This proposal was accepted and in 1931 the remains were declared a National Monument with the General Registry number 528.

In 1936, the restoration works began under the direction of Mr. Leopoldo Torres Balbás and his partner, the Jaen architect Mr. Luis Berges Martínez. However, these works would be interrupted by the beginning of the Civil War.

It will not be until 1970 when the General Directorate of Fine Arts entrusts the first restoration project of the Baths to the architect Mr. Luis Berges Roldán, son of the previous one. This initial project is followed by another six more in successive years, the last two in 1980 and 1982, in agreement with the Provincial Council of Jaén. Thanks to the works, most of the rooms that can be seen today were discovered.

When the works were completed in 1984, the Europa Nostra Association awarded the Medal of Honor for that year for the restoration of the Arab Baths.

The rooms that make up the Arab Baths are:

Lobby (al-bayt al-maslaj)

The entrance hall is a transversal room 14 meters long by 3.80 meters wide, with alcoves at both ends separated from the rest of the room by horseshoe arches on half columns, a pattern that will be repeated in all the other rooms . Tacas are located on both sides of the entrance.
The room is covered by a barrel vault and has 18 starry skylights.
The floor was covered with white marble and the walls were plastered and painted with arches decoration in red on a white background.

Cold Room (al-bayt al-barid)

Contiguous and very similar to the previous one, although smaller in size (11.4 m x 3.50 m.), This room is also covered by a half-barrel vault in which 12 skylights are located. The alcove on the far right is covered with a dome with 5 skylights.

Temperate room (al-bayt al-wastani)

It consists of a large square room measuring 11'30 m x 11.30 m which, in turn, encloses another central square, this one covered by a large dome with a hemispherical cap on pendentives.

The dome does not rest on solid walls but on horseshoe arches supported by eight columns. In the four corners of the great hall there are four other smaller domes, and the remaining spaces are covered with four half-barrel vaults with 3 skylights in each of them.

This large room gives way, through two horseshoe arches, to another room measuring 11.30m x 2.80m that presides over the entire complex and is covered by a half-barrel vault; having two bedrooms at the ends covered with domes with skylights.

Hot Room (al-bayt al-sachum)

Measuring 15.90 m long by 3.30 m wide, the hot room is very similar to the previous rooms. It is covered with a barrel vault with 15 skylights and two alcoves at the ends with 5 skylights each. This room is located next to the boilers where the water was heated. Its walls are covered by hidden chimneys through which the hot air circulated.

In the center of the room, a large flared arch separates it from where the boiler was. On both sides of this central arch, two small rooms contain: one, a square sitz bath and the other, two jars.

Under its stone floor, the entire room is hollow: numerous small brick pillars support it, allowing hot air to circulate which, due to its natural tendency, rises and adheres to the floor, heating it.