Renovations of Seville Tapas Bar Reveal 12th Century Bathhouse

An unexpected historical find

Historic Seville just got a little more historic.

If you’ve witnessed the effects of a home renovation, you may already be aware of the unexpected things that can be found from earlier versions of a house or apartment. Carpets might give way to stunning hardwood floors; a change in a ceiling might reveal intricate patterns in tin hidden behind plaster. But it’s unlikely that your next renovation will yield a 12th century bathhouse with Islamic motifs woven into the design. That is, unless you’re the owner of a tapas bar in Seville.

In the 12th century, parts of Spain were ruled by the Almohad caliphate. At that point in the caliphate’s history, the prevailing aesthetic veered towards geometric designs and ornate patterns and a distinctive style of architecture.

The owners of Seville’s Cervercería Giralda, open since 1923, received a detailed lesson in those design sensibilities when they opted to renovate the space during the pandemic. The Guardian reports that, during the renovations, contractors discovered an eight-pointed star buried beneath plaster in the ceiling. Cue archaeologist Álvaro Jiménez, who had heard rumors of the space’s history but was wary of them. Once the skylight was discovered, however, that wariness dissipated.

The discovery led to more skylights being uncovered, leading to what Jiménez referred to as “the largest amount of preserved decoration of any of the known baths on the Iberian peninsula.”

The tapas bar is set to reopen in the coming weeks, with the renovations now incorporating the discovery of the centuries-old hammam. Its owners credit the foresight of the architect who worked on the space in the 1920s for leaving the historic elements intact. There’s something very enticing about drinking or dining in a space dating back centuries, after all.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.