The Caliphal Baths are Arab baths in Córdoba. They are situated in the historic centre which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1994. The hammam ('baths) are contiguous to the Alcázar andalusí; ablutions and bodily cleanliness were an essential part of a Muslim's life, mandatory before prayer, besides being a social ritual.
The baths were constructed in the 10th century, under the Caliphate of Al-Hakam II for the enjoyment of the caliph and his court. Between the 11th and 13th centuries, they were used by Almoravids and Almohads, their dynasties noted by the plaster-carved acanthus motif and epigraphic bands of the era, which are stored in the Archaeological and Ethnological Museum of Cordoba. The remains of the baths were found accidentally in 1903 in the Campo Santo de los Mártires, and were subsequently buried. Between 1961 and 1964, a group of city historians recovered them.
The Caliphal Baths have different sections of cold, warm and hot water baths. Architectural details include rooms with masonry walls, semicircular arches, and columns with capitals. The ceiling is punctuated by cut-outs of stars.References:
The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.
Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.
The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.
As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).