Bath of Comares

On the north-east corner of the courtyard there are two doors which lead to the Bath of Comares  of the Palace of Comares.

In addition to its traditional purpose it had another more specific purpose, directly related to politics and diplomacy. The location of the door, close to the Chamber of the Ambassadors, hints at it. For those reasons it was used especially when the friendship and favour of diplomats and politicians from other kingdoms needed to be won over.

The upper part, at the level of the Comares courtyard, is made up of the room known as the Sala de Desvestirse (changing room) or al-bayt al-maslaj with a small bathroom, and the gallery looking out on the lower part.

The lower part of al-bayt al-maslaj is called the Room of the Beds or the Room of Rest, because there are two large stonework benches, with cushions, for resting in lively conversation before and after bathing. In the centre of the room there is a low fountain and the marvellous tiling covering its floor.

Bath of Comares distribution and uses of the rooms

From there one enters the al-bayt al-barid or cold room, with two lateral bedrooms and in one of them there is a cold water font and in the other the al-bayt al-wastani or lukewarm room. The floor of the bath, with the exception of the first room, was made of marble, and it was covered with vaults and skylights (madawi) which offered lighting from above. Separating or moving the glass closer to the skylights enabled the amount of steam to be regulated. There is an open font in a small arch on the wall which poured hot water onto the floor and as it evaporated steam was produced. The glass of the skylights was red and white coloured.

The hot room or al-bayt al-sajun has two large immersion fonts for hot water. On the large immersion font there is a little decorative marble arch on which a poem by Ibn al-Yayyab in honour of Yusuf I is written.

The servicing area for this bath had a boiler used for heating water, and the oven (al-furn) with its hypocausis held up by brick pillars which open up in the shape of a palm tree to support the upper floor. The one that produced heat, and as previously mentioned the correct amount of water produced steam.

In this bathhouse you can also note that hammans do not only have a hygienic purpose, but also have a social funciton one.

In the Bath of Comares we can observe how the idea of pleasure and hedonism was as important in Islamic life is felt. Conversation was enjoyed alongside the contrast between two opposites: the cold and heat.

Rafael Contreras who restored all of the plasterwork while Mariano Contreras, Modesto Cendoya, Leopoldo Balbás and Pedro Salmerón gave it colour. It can be visited when it is available in “Area of the month” promgram, regulated by the Patronato de la Alhambra who is in chrage of the vistis and conservation of the monument.

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