Hamams, Turkish Bath, Hamams in Turkey

Filed under Turkey Vacations

One of the great pleasures of a visit to Istanbul is spending a lazy afternoon in one of the city’s Turkish baths, known as hamams. Some of the hamams stil in use today are exquisite structures more than 500 years old.

Hamams were born out of necessity : it was the way people kept clean before the introduction of internal plumbing in homes but, over time, the hamams began to play an important role in Ottoman social life, particularly for women.

Men had to coffeehouse and women the hamam,a place to get together,gossip and relax.

Now that people bathe at home,the hamams have been fading as a central element in Turkish life. There are stil bathhouses dotted throughout Istanbul,but many wouldn’t survive without steady tourist traffic.

Still, going to the hamam is a good opportunity to experience what reamins an unbroken link to the Ottoman past.

Most hamams have separate facilities for men and women.Each has a camekan, a large domed room with small cubicles where you can undress,wrap yourself in a thin colth called a peştamal and put on slippers or wooden sandals – all provided.

Then you will continue through a pair of increasingly hotter rooms. The first, known as the soğukluk,has showers and toilets and is used for cooling down at the end of your session.

Next is the hararet, a steamy and softly lit room with marble washbasins along the sides. You can douse yourself by scooping water with a copper bowl.

In the middle of the room is göbektaşı., a marble platform heated byfurnaces below and usually covered with reclining bodies. This is where,if you decide to take your chances, a traditional Turkish massage will be “ administered. “

The masseur will first scrub you down with a rough, loofa-like sponge known as a kese. Be prepared to lose several layers of dead skin.

Once you are scrubbed, the masseur will soap you up into a frothy lather,rinse you off,and then conduct what will probably be the most vigorous massage you will evet receive. Speak up if you want your masseuse to ease up.

Once you have been worked over,you can relax ( and recover) on the göbektaşı or head back to your change cubicle,where you will be wrapped in fresh towels and perhaps messaged a little more,this time with soothing oils.Most cubicles have small beds where you can lie down and sip tea or fresh juice brought by an attendant.

One of the best hamams in Istanbul are ;

Cağaloğlu Hamamı ( Prof. Kazı Gürkan Caddesi 34,Cağaloğlu )

Çemberlitas Hamam ( Vezirhan Caddesi 8,Çemberlitaş )

Gedikpaşa Hamam ( Hamam Caddesi 65-67,Beyazıt)



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