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In the 19th century, the Barrios family took up residence in this architectural complex on the calle Real. It comprised the bathhouse of the Great Mosque and a Nasrid-era house (both dating back to the 14th century) that over the years had undergone several transformations. The restoration of the buildings began in 1934, and was led by the monument's conservation architects of the day: Leopoldo Torres Balbás and Francisco Prieto Moreno. The latter, from 1975 onwards, undertook the definitive restoration and expansion of the building to create an exhibition space which would house the donation made by the artist's daughter, Ángela Barrios Pavía, of a legacy including works of art, belongings from the family home, and objects of extraordinary value. These collections provided the content for the initial version of the museum, which was inaugurated in 1977 This first permanent exhibition recreated an atmosphere with a homely character and was very different from the various museographical interpretations the legacy would later inspire.

With a focus on its history thanks to recent studies and what we know today, the House has been reinterpreted once again; this time, as a comprehensive collection of history and stories. By means of a diachronic and evocative interpretation, visitors can see and enjoy, in situ as well as via this website, the successive transformations and uses of the building's spaces. A melting pot of cultures and inhabitants, it was an indispensable source of creative inspiration – together with the rest of the monuments – for hundreds of intellectuals who, over the centuries, created the 'Alhambra of artists'. 

The calle Real de la Alhambra is part of its Medina (town). The Medina occupied the upper part of the Sabika hill, the site of the Alhambra, and was surrounded by two main longitudinal streets, the calle Real Alta and la Real Baja, as well as other secondary streets that intersected them. It contained houses, bathhouses, industries, and all the usual elements required by any city. But the Alhambra was also a courtly city, and the Medina was planned and laid out to be at the service of the sultan.The calle Real Alta starts at the Puerta del Vino (Wine Gate) – which was the main entrance to the Medina – and continues east to the Parador de San Francisco and then south-west towards the Puerta de los Siete Suelos (Gate of the Seven Floors). Its route was probably influenced by the Royal Canal (Acequia Real) or the Sultan's Canal, discovered thanks to archaeological excavations carried out in the early 20th century. The road climbed gently up to the highest point of the Sabika hill. On its left, the area was taken up by 14th-century palaces and a number of public buildings such as the mosque and the hammam, today replaced by the palace of Charles V and the church of Santa Maria de la Alhambra.

The steam bath, or hammam, is one of the characteristic features of Islamic culture. It not only has a purifying function on a religious level, but it is also a space for washing and often a meeting place for getting together socially. This bathhouse was built for those who used the Mosque that stood next door (at the time of Sultan Muhammad III, 1302-1309), where the church of Santa Maria de la Alhambra now stands. Hidden behind the walls of a house built between the 16th and 17th centuries, restoration work began on the building in 1934. Although records mention it was destroyed in 1534, enough remains were found to reconstruct it, from the bases of vaults, the cupola, fragments of tiles, plasterwork and part of the marble flooring. 

Next to the mosque's bathhouse, and sharing the wall of the façade on the calle Real Alta, is part of a Nasrid nobleman's house, including an internal courtyard with a pool, and whose façade retains much of the original plasterwork decoration. The entrance to the building no longer exists, although it currently shares an access via a corridor that goes to the bathhouse, leading historiographers to consider it part of their structures. 

Next to the site of the two buildings, in the so-called huerta de Santa María, is a large pool with a similar orientation as that of the bathhouse and the mosque, and is thus thought to perhaps be part of the complex. 

In the 19th century, Antonio Barrios Tamayo purchased the entire complex of buildings that had been joined together into a livable house. Its structure lent itself to be used as a family home, and he opened a tavern, accommodation, and a shop selling a wide range of groceries. It was from here, 'Polinario's house', as it was nicknamed, that Antonio, a kind man, supplied groceries and products to many neighbours who lived in different parts of the Alhambra and the Generalife, as well as in nearby streets and neighbourhoods. But what stood out the most was the exquisite kindness that Antonio Barrios (and later his son Ángel) extended to visitors who arrived in Granada – keen to see the Alhambra – as well as to the growing number of intellectuals and artists who visited the city. It was, for all of them, a meeting place, an intercultural space and a creative focal point. This space definitively marked a wide range of the best and most remarkable socio-cultural initiatives of a city and a country that, dialectically, experienced huge generational changes until attaining what has become known as the Silver Age of Spanish culture, later destroyed by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1936.



    June 12 2014 08:08

    Ángel Barrios. Creatividad en la Alhambra

    La Alhambra rinde homenaje a la figura del compositor, músico y guitarrista granadino, con una gran exposición en el cincuentenario de su muerte. Read more


    June 12 2014 13:01

    Presentación de la nueva web de la Casa-museo Ángel Barrios

    El Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife presenta el avance de esta nueva web referente autorizado de la figura y el legado de Ángel Barrios. Read more

    June 12 2014 07:07

    La Alhambra creativa de Ángel Barrios

    Una exposición, organizada por el Patronato de la Alhambra y Generalife y el Centro de Documentación Musical de Andalucía, recorrerá la vida y obra... Read more