The bath in the 19 th and 20 th centuries

The bath in the 19 th and 20 th centuries


Engraving by A. Laborde.                             Engraving by A. Laborde, made at the beginning of 
View of the Vestibule.                                   he 19 th century, showing the floor plan and sections of the Baths.
Biblioteca Valenciana.                                  Biblioteca Valenciana.


At the beginning of the 19 th century, the erudite French traveller Alexandre de Laborde lent the building an "Arabic" quality with his engraved illustrations.
At this time, coinciding with Laborde's visit, there was a resurgence in the social consideration of the bath, which had fallen into disrepute in the time of the Counterreformation. However, the bourgeois culture of the Industrial Age called for a bathing practice which guaranteed privacy.


Photograph of the entrance door to the    Photograph of the interior of the                   Photograph of the baths' patio. 
baths. Beginning of the 20 th century.      bath house. Beginning of the 20th century.   Beginning of the 20 th century.
Biblioteca Valenciana                                Biblioteca Valenciana                                   Biblioteca Valenciana


Between 1830 and 1874, its physical appearance was transformed by a series of restoration projects. First, individual cubicles were built, each with a marble bathtub, amounting to ten wash basins in all. The street alignment was regulated, forcing a reduction in the size of the boiler room and the construction a new façade. Also, a four-storey building was constructed over the establishment.
The most drastic changes were made in 1874. The owner of the baths demolished the medieval vestibule and put up a new "cloister patio" with columns. He also built 12 more cubicles, allowing him to offer 22 bathtubs to the public. He decorated the establishment with Arabic-looking touches: horseshoe and polylobate archways, skirting boards made of tiles in the style of the Nazar dynasty of Granada, and Arabesque-style plasterwork. 
This decoration did not change until 1961, when the restoration work directed by Alejandro Ferrant, eliminated this Neo-Arabic appearance.
During the 20 th century very few modifications were made on the building. The heating and hydraulic mechanisms were improved and the building became more oriented towards therapeutic needs.
In 1959, the Baños del Almirante closed its doors after having operated for almost 650 years as a public bath.


Los Baños del Almirante at the beginning of the 20th century. Photograph by V. Barberá Masip. Biblioteca Valenciana