Balneario de la Palma - La Palma Spa
The Balneario de la Palma - La Palma Spa has been an emblematic building on La Caleta Beach in Cadiz since it was opened in 1926. After a chequered history the building now serves as a government administration office.
In 1924 the Cadiz provincial council offered a tender to build a new spa called Balneario Nuestra Señora de la Palma y del Real on the site of the old Royal Baths on La Caleta Beach. A seasonal wooden structure had been popular on the site in previous years. Enrique Garcia Cañas was awarded the project and he finished the works in 1926.
The Balneario de Nuestra Señora de la Palma was, in practice, the main entrance to descend the steps down to La Caleta beach. For a few pesetas it was possible to rent a booth for the whole day where you could change, store your clothes and shower.
In 1938 during the Spanish Civil War the building became the boarding school of the Escuela de Flechas Naval of the Frente de Juventudes and was later transferred to the Batería de la 2ª Aguada. In 1943 it returning to its use as a Spa run by Diputación (Provincial Council).
In 1958 the Diputación sold the Balneario de la Palma to a businessman, José Paredes González de la Torre, who used the building as a venue for holding banquets as well as Spa activities.
The progressive deterioration of the structure of the building due led to its abandonment in 1975, leaving the Spa largely in ruins. Plans for upgrade to the building in 1975 were abandoned as the necessary permision were denied.
The ruined emblematic building was controversial in Cadiz. In 1987 the city council declared their intention to demolish it. Local opinion was devided between restoring and demolishing the structure. In 1990 the Andalucia Government 'saved' the structure by declaring the Spa as an Asset of Cultural Interest (BIC).
Commercial projects were rejected by the city council. The Andalucian government carried restoration works without a definitive use. After two decades abandoned, much of the original structures had disappeared. The restoration focused on the access pavilion, the hexagonal wings and the central towers and the ornamental elements which were recreated from photographs.
Finally the Andalucia administrative decided to use the building for one of their adinistrative agencies; Centro de Arqueología Subacuática del Instituto Andaluz del Patrimonio Histórico. (Underwater Archeology Center of the Andalusian Institute of Historical Heritage).
In late 2021 further restoration work was required the sea facing façades, in particular repairs to the cornices and ornamental element of the north wing, including the facade cladding and painting of the domes of the north and south towers and painting of ceilings and pillars at beach level.
Further reading and selection of historic postcards in blog by Manuel Holgado García.
The spa itself is supported on pillars on the beach itself from reinforced concrete. It consists of a central pavilion to accommodate 300 guests, flanked by towers topped by oriental domes. From which two quarter circle curved wings or walkways stretch out towards the seashore covered by a roof supported on Tuscan columns. At the ends the walkways are open sea viewpoints covered by smaller octagonal domes.
The modernist influence is evident throughout the complex, typical of English seaside resorts in general and the Pavilion in Brighton in particular. It mixes modernist forms with historical motifs of oriental influence
The white painted Spa has few decorative elements, one however is a panel of tiles over the main entrance of the Virgen de la Palma, painted by Juan Ruiz de Luna.
As a public administration office it is not open to the public, without prior appointment. Contact Tel: +34 956 203 394 or email [email protected]
Avenida Duque de Nájera, 3, Cádiz