Spinach with chickpeas has been one of Seville’s specialties for centuries. Some of the city’s eateries have become famous for it, and the best ‘espinacas con garbanzos’, prepared with cumin, pimenton (paprika) and garlic, are eaten there. Top of the list is bar Giralda, a cozy tapas bar in the street Mateos Gago, near the cathedral. Recently, the building has been thoroughly renovated and during the work, the builders discovered to their great surprise a medieval “hamán”, an Arab bathhouse. Research showed that the hamán had been part of houses at the same location for centuries, but was hidden behind walls, a double ceiling and stucco during a renovation in 1928.

According to the well-known Spanish archaeologist Fernando Amores, it is a unique find. Beautiful geometric murals have been found covering both the walls and the dome. Furthermore, 88 light windows have been uncovered in the vault with 5 different shapes (stars, octagons, etc.). Never before have such rich decorations been found in bathhouses. The building dates from the 12th century and Seville was at that time the capital of a large Islamic empire. The main mosque stood on the site where the cathedral now stands, and many Muslims visited the nearby bathhouse, after which they would go to the mosque cleansed and pray to the Mihrab, the prayer niche that marked the location of Mecca.

The hamman is currently being restored and will remain a bar in the future. Emiliano Sánchez , the chef who has been working there since 1984, continues to be in charge of the kitchen. It is a must to try the spinach with chickpeas at this very spot. If it gets very busy in the former bathhouse, that is no problem, because during the tour I will tell you where else you can go for the most delicious local specialties.