Arab baths#7 in Best Things To Do in Granada
There's a history lesson to be had anywhere you go in Granada, and the city's spas are no exception. The Arab baths were once a gathering place for Granada's Arab inhabitants, having been an important ritual in Muslim life and culture. To the Moors, water was considered a symbol of purity and the baths were used to cleanse oneself both physically and spiritually. Once the Christians eventually took over the city after the Reconquest of Spain, many Arab establishments were torn down and rebuilt into different religious and secular establishments. This included the bath houses, many of which were turned into bakeries since the facilities contained a large broiler used to heat up some of the baths. El Bañuelo, which dates back to the 11th century, is the last Arab bath house that has remained largely intact in Granada, and is one of the last in the entire country of Spain.
There are two ways to experience the Arab baths. El Bañuelo is open to tour but the baths themselves are no longer there. That didn't bother travelers though, who found both the architecture within beautiful and history insightful. Some noted, however, if you aren't aware of the history (or simply aren't interested) you might find El Bañuelo a bit boring. If you want to take a dip, Hammam Al Andalus is still active, housing a large bath of its own in addition to standard spa treatments, such as massages. Another option, Aljibe de San Miguel Arab Baths, is equipped with seven pools of varying temperatures, much like the original bath houses. The bath houses are located near the Albaicín. Prices and hours vary by facility.
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#1 The Alhambra
The Alhambra is the crown jewel of Granada. Perched high atop a hill in the center of the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site dominates the skyline. The Alhambra is not only Granada and Andalusia's biggest tourist attraction, it's one of the most-visited spots in all of Spain. It draws about 2 million visitors per year, with some traveling to Granada just to see the Alhambra. And for good reason – it boasts a rich history, magnificent architecture, gorgeous gardens and stellar views.
Aesthetics aside, to really appreciate the Alhambra is to understand its history. The palace was primarily built between the 13th and 14th centuries by the Moorish Nasrid Dynasty (though small parts of it were initially constructed in the ninth century by the previous dynasty), acting as a residence for royals as well as fortress. After the Conquest of Granada, Spanish rulers made the Alhambra more their own – transforming interiors, replacing the on-site mosque with a church and adding other Renaissance-style structures, including an extra palace for Charles V. Many of what visitors see today is centuries of rebuilding and restoration.
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