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Historical Ottoman Hamams in Istanbul

With a history dating back to ancient times, hamams, one of the places that cleanse and purify the body while soothing the soul and bringing peacefulness, make our lives more valuable as the oldest structures in the world. The older the hamam - an aesthetic combination of the healing power of water, which is good for both the body and soul, with a special architecture - is, the more valuable it becomes. With mesmerizing basins, heated marble platform in the center (göbek tasi), marble flooring, as well as the steam, echo and sound of the water inside, hamams are preferred by many people today as they promote health. 

 

Meaning of Hamam 

"Hamam" is an Arabic word derived from the word "ham" that means to heat. Afterwards, it was named as the place for bathing. Hamams, which were places of great importance in ancient Greece, are known to be built specially for athletes at that time. Designed also to serve the public, hamams are most common in the Roman Period. Hamams, where Archimedes discovered the principle of buoyancy and said Eureka! (I've found it), are also regarded as a place to socialize both in Ancient times and today. 

 

 

Which Hamam to Go in Istanbul? 

With a deep-rooted history, Istanbul is home to many historical sites. Undoubtedly, hamams are one of these historical sites. Located in different districts of Istanbul, the historical Ottoman hamams offer not only the pleasure of bathing and cleansing, but also the pleasure of witnessing history. Let's take a closer look at these hamams that have survived for centuries.

 

 

Aga Hamam 

Built at the behest of Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1454, Aga Hamam is known as the oldest hamam in Istanbul, which initially served as a hunting house. There was a need for such a place when the sultans came to Beyoglu for hunting. Aga Hamam, which was made available to public in 1923 after the foundation of Republic of Turkey, is a hamam that attracts not only local people but also foreign tourists, and it is preferred by many for its services.

 

Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hamam

Hamams are also famous for their rituals. Here, you can not only enjoy bathing but also great traditional rituals. Built by Mimar Sinan at the behest of Hurrem Sultan in 1556, hamam has managed to survive to date. Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hamam, which served as a warehouse for a while and was put back into service after 2011, offers services such as aromatherapy, anti-stress, foot and back massages and personal care packages. As for the ritual of this hamam… When you visit Hagia Sophia Hurrem Sultan Hamam, drink Ottoman sherbet to feel the spirit of those times. You can also taste savory dishes in the restaurant of the hamam.     

 

Cagaloglu Hamam

Cagaloglu Hamam has been in service since 1741, and it was included in the list of "1000 Places to See Before You Die" by New York Times, which shows how special and important it is. Cagaloglu Hamam enjoys the proud of being the only Turkish hamam on the list. Neighboring the hamam is a restaurant called Lokanta 1741, which has been included in the Michelin List for 2023. 

 

 

Cemberlitas Hamam 

Cemberlitas Hamam is located on the historical peninsula and has been in service since 1584. The hamam offers services such as foam, rubbing with a bath glove, sultan massage, aromatherapy massage and clay mask. With its special treats and soaps, Cagaloglu Hamam is open every day from 06.00 to 00.00.

 

 

Galatasaray Hamam

Built at the behest of Sultan Bayezid II in Beyoglu, Galatasaray Hamam is one of the oldest hamams with a deep-rooted history in Istanbul. The hamam is located in Galatasaray Complex and has been in service since 1481.  Galatasaray Hamam, where services such as rubbing with a bath glove, foam and massage are offered and events such as bridal bath are held, also hosted the famous actor John Travolta in 2008 when he visited Istanbul. 

 

 

Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam   

Kilic Ali Pasa, also known as Uluc Ali Reis, was a sailor who played an important role in the Ottoman period as an admiral. Having been in service since 1583, Kilic Ali Pasa Hamam is one of the the oldest hamams in Istanbul. After the restoration works which took 7 years, the hamam got a much better look. You are welcomed with a traditional Ottoman sherbet as soon as you step into the hamam. The nice smell of the soaps and the relaxing hamam atmosphere will rest your body and soul with a sense of peacefulness. 

 

 

Suleymaniye Hamam 

Built by Mimar Sinan in 1557 at the behest of Suleiman the Magnificent, Suleymaniye Hamam has been in service since that time. In this historical hamam, which is also known as Dokmeci Hamam since a foundry is located next to it, only male masseurs serve. You must make a reservation in advance to visit Suleymaniye Hamam.  Our article Time to Get Purified with Zen Meditation can be inspiring for those who love meditation, an activity that is as relaxing as hamams.  

 

 

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  • Ralph K. Williams
  • 28-07-2023
  • TRAVEL

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