About Banys Arabs
The Banys Arabs or ‘Arab Baths’ in Palma are a small site containing one of the sole surviving examples of Islamic architecture in Majorca. Dating back to the eleventh century, the Banys Arabs would probably have been part of the home of an affluent Moorish resident.
Today, visitors to the Banys Arabs can see the two rooms of the remaining Arab baths. Interestingly, parts of the Banys Arabs are dated older than the site itself; for instance, some of the columns are from ancient Rome.
History of Banys Arabs
The Banys Arabs are virtually all that remain of the Arab city of Medina Mayurqa (now known as Palma). They were architecturally inspired by and built using materials from former Muslim, Byzantine, and Roman buildings. The baths are perfectly integrated into the gardens of the former orchard of the manor house Can Fontirroig.
The first mention of the existence of public baths in Girona date back to 1194. In 1285, the bath complex was partially destroyed during a siege by the troops of Philip III the Bold of France. In 1294, King James II rebuilt them.
In 1342, the baths were owned by Arnau Sarriera, the personal physician of Peter III the Ceremonious, and during the Middle Ages, some of the rooms were temporarily used as a mikveh by the city’s Jewish community.
In 1618, they were bought by a community of Capuchin nuns and used as part of their convent. It was not until the 19th century that they became an object of interest and study by early travellers, such as Alexandre de Laborde, who, through his extensive drawings and engravings, made their presence and appearance known to the whole world.
Due to heightening interest, Girona Provincial Council purchased the baths in 1929, and then supervised their restoration, opening them to the public in 1932.
Banys Arabs Today
Today, visitors from all over the world enjoy the intricate remains of the baths, with each column being a different shape owing to their coming from a variety of former Roman, Muslim, and Byzantine buildings.
It is also worth spending some time in the former orchard of Can Fontitroig manor house, and imagine the role that the baths would have played as part of the nobleman’s house. Both tourists and locals alike are known to bring a picnic there to enjoy.
Getting to Banys Arabs
The baths are reachable in 3 minutes by car from the centre of Palma, via Carrer d’En Morei. By foot, which is likely preferable in order to soak up all of the local architecture, it’s a 3 minute walk via Carrer de Santa Clara.