is a surprise that this archaeologist did not expect. And the owner of the establishment probably neither! In Seville, in southern Spain, a 12th century hammame century, perfectly preserved, was unearthed in a bar, while it was proceeding to renovations. These had started last summer, supervised by a researcher, appointed on the spot because of the location of the establishment: a protected area because it is close to the Cathedral of Seville. Now bar patrons can enjoy their drinks while admiring Islamic paintings and ornaments in the hammam.
The star-shaped skylight appeared after the first hammer blows. Alvaro Jimenez, the archaeologist commissioned to attend the start of the work, did not expect it “absolutely”, he told Agence France-Presse. There followed 87 other skylights, stars, octagons drawing a starry sky in this Arabist-style bar called Giralda, like the old minaret of the Seville mosque, which was getting a makeover.
A heritage preserved thanks to an architect from the early 20th century century
After the amazement and the “swear words” released by Alvaro Jimenez, the workers discovered many paintings in this room of 202 square meters and a hammam with a cold room, a lukewarm and a hot one. Thermal baths more than 800 years old whose paintings, sculptures and wall decorations have been frozen in time thanks to an architect of the early 20th centurye century, Vicente Traver, who in 1928 concealed these decorations and skylights, when he built two additional floors.
This heritage, “we thought he had destroyed it, and we must recognize that he saved it”, continues Alvaro Jimenez. “He found it and he saved it for the future. »In the 12the century, Seville, conquered by the Almohads in 1147, was one of the two capitals of their empire, along with Marrakech. “Seville Cathedral was erected on the remains of the Almohad Aljama mosque, built between 1172 and 1198” and “these baths are located right in this area of the city that the Almohads made monumental and converted into their political center , religious, economic, ”recalls Alvaro Jimenez.
Above the mosaics already present before the renovation are now visible ornate walls, white engraved vaults. The bar, which should soon reopen, has become a living museum, completely redone in a refined style, which highlights the history of the place and where customers can refresh themselves, as we already did in another way. eight centuries ago.