The best travel guides are those written by the inhabitants of a city themselves. Stories then take on a life of their own, and the revealed nooks of each corner of our birthplace make us feel at home. They are also the most generous because they present the tourist with true stories, who get a feeling for the place they are visiting as if it were their own home, and the locals, who often are unaware of the footsteps left by their ancestors, rediscover their roots. For that reason we are enthusiastic about the appearance of Hammam Al Ándalus Granada in the book by César Requesens, Unusual Secret Granada (Granada insólita y secreta), which belongs to the collection “Guides written by inhabitants” from the publisher JonGlez.
César Requesens dedicates a few pages to one of our favourite players, the water, a citizen of honour in Granada since ancient times. Just as is written in the chapter of Las Tacas de La Alhambra, “water was a luxury possessed in abundance by the tribes of the desert who lived in Granada, as shown by the number of fountains, pools and channels making the place beautiful”. Requesens tells us that Las Tacas, among other things, served for the ablutions of purification, the rite preceding prayer for Muslims, in which the believer washes their hands and rinses out the mouth, simulating drinking from the pool in paradise.
This book gives us living stories from the city but, as the name suggests, ones which are lesser known than the ones we are used to hearing. Some, such as the Water Stairway in the gardens of the Generalife, the favourite place of Federico García Lorca and Mauel de Falla, are today hidden by the surrounding vegetation. On this stairway, which was an access route to a small oratorium located at the highest part of the enclosure, “can be heard the heavenly song of the stream, which smells of the aroma poured out by the lovely laurel overlooking its path”.
The Tunnel of the Little King is also a secret to those passing by. This three-metre-high underground gallery is covered in abundant undergrowth of brambles and creepers, and once again it is water that reveals its existence, thanks to a side cascade that falls to the river and tells us that we are standing before the entrance to this tunnel below the building of the Little King.
Hammam Al Ándalus is also present in this magnificent book surrounded by an abundance of water. Granada insólita y secreta dedicates in a chapter of its pages an outline of our chess tournament in water, which is held in the month of November at our installations below the Torre de la Vela. “It provides us with a unique opportunity to have a game of chess submerged in its warm waters under the soft light”, writes César Requesens, who also notes that exactly the same thing happens in the baths in Budapest, where it is a tradition.
Our baths in Cordoba, Madrid and Malaga are also mentioned, when the author recalls that our establishment in Granada was the first to open its doors in the 90s and, due to the popularity that the hammam has acquired since then, more have appeared in other cities. The fact is that, just as César Requesens felt the need to share the unknown corners of the capital of the Alhambra with others, we felt the need to share with those from other cities the exciting sensation of bathing in living history and the delicious benefits that the hammam provides for our health.