Facts about the Hamam
Hammams, also known as “Turkish Baths” outside the country, have become a center of health, entertainment, and socio-cultural activities beyond bathing in Turkish culture. Turkish Baths are places where you can completely cleanse your body of dirt by bathing, where you can fully relax and have a unique comfort. In this article, you will find everything you need to know for your first time in a Turkish sauna. We not only share the top 10 Hammams in Istanbul but also what to wear, what to take care of afterward, health benefits, prices, and frequently asked questions!
The history of the Turkish Baths
The origin of the bath dates back to the Romans. The excavations in the city of Pompeii, which was buried under the ashes by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, revealed the baths used by the Romans. In Roman culture, where there was a class difference, it was seen that there were different entrance places and washing places for slaves and nobles in the baths.
The Byzantines reflected the rich heritage they inherited from the Romans in their culture. When we think of Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, one of the first things that come to mind is the hammams. The baths, which became a part of our culture with the conquest of Istanbul, were places where people went to bathe and relax in hot and cold water, heated by a special device during the Ottoman Empire. Located in every neighborhood of the city during the glorious periods of the empire, the baths were structures with hot and cold baths and domed marble rooms. Baths were one of the beauty secrets for Ottoman women. At that time, there was always a bathhouse serving only women on certain days of the week.
What to wear in a hammam and things to take with you
Many questions such as what to take to the hammam and what to wear to the hammam are among the most curious questions about the Turkish Bath, especially for those who will go to the hammam for the first time in their lives. We are almost sure that you will feel like a bird at the end of a day in the Turkish bath and that you can spend one of the most enjoyable days of your life. If you want to enjoy the Turkish bath, one of the most popular Turkish traditions, but don’t know what to take with you, here is the answer:
Things you have to bring with you:
Usually, guests are provided with scrubs, soap, shampoo, towels, slippers, and peshtemals. You can still bring the following items with you if you would like to use your personal things.
- Peshtemal: The first thing that comes to mind when you think of a Turkish bath is of course the Peshtemal, a Turkish towel.
- Towel: A peshtemal may be insufficient to remove the wetness of your body. A towel will meet your needs for later.
- Slippers: The marbles of the hammam will of course be warm, but slippers should definitely be in your bag to be more comfortable while walking around inside.
- Washcloth: The washcloths and washcloths are usually brought by the hammam servants. But if you want to be in the bath by yourself, you can bring your own washcloth.
- Pumice (Heel) stone: The warmth of the bath and the effect of the water can be the perfect environment to remove dead skin under the feet. Therefore, it may be an opportunity to bring a heel stone with you.
- Clean clothes: Wearing clean clothes after a hammam session is one of the most relaxing feelings. Therefore, you can be more comfortable if you throw clean clothes to change in your bag instead of the same clothes you came to the hammam in.
- Bikini: The most curious question about the hammam is what to wear inside. First of all, if you feel more comfortable, you can bring a bikini. But you should know that in hammam culture, the use of bikinis for the upper body is not very common.
What do you wear in a Hamam?
The hammam staff usually provide guests with a peshtemal, a thin cotton towel to cover you with, and a normal towel to be used after bathing. Bringing your swimsuit is fine, but not necessarily recommended for the authentic experience, as most people will be wearing anything.
Health benefits of Turkish Baths
- With the effect of the heat in the hammam, happiness hormones called serotonin and endorphins are released in the body. This relaxes the body and opens the mind.
- One of the most important benefits of the bath is that it removes dead skin from the body. It removes the dead skin on our skin and provides new skin.
- It is of great benefit for those who want to lose weight. By going to the bath, fat burning can be accelerated with the steam temperature.
- Hamam is very effective in relieving stress. You can relax your body by going to a bath during nervous and tense times.
- It strengthens the immune system.
- It increases blood circulation and metabolic activity of the body.
- Relieves muscle tension and pain and opens the joints.
- Reduces sinus congestion caused by colds, asthma, or allergic diseases.
- With the scrub and foam massages in the hammam, a detox effect is provided and the body is cleansed of toxins.
What are the things you should pay attention to before entering the bath?
You should remove your glasses, jewelry and accessories before entering the bath. If you do not take this precaution, the melting of the metal may only seem like a financial loss, but it will also harm your health. The heated metal can affect your veins and cause redness on your skin.
If you wear contact lenses, you should also remove them before entering the bath. It is also wrong to enter the bath on a full stomach, it may cause health problems. You should not eat before entering the hammam as it will create tension in the circulatory system. Although it is wrong to enter the bath on a full stomach, it will not be right to enter too hungry, some people may faint due to the loss of minerals and fluids. It is also dangerous for your health to enter the hammam if you have drunk alcohol. The acceleration of blood circulation can cause negative consequences if alcohol is consumed. The heat of the bath is not suitable for alcohol consumption.
If you feel physically tired, it is better not to enter the hammam. In addition, if you have high blood pressure or severe heart disease, it is not recommended to enter the hammam as you may have breathing difficulties.
The 10 best Turkish Baths in Istanbul:
Çemberlitaş Hamam, built in 1584 by Mimar Sinan, is one of the most well-known historical baths of Istanbul. This bath, located in Çemberlitaş as the name suggests, is the second most famous and most preferred bath in Fatih. Celebrities also visited this hammam, which is one of the Turkish double baths consisting of men’s and women’s sections. Çemberlitaş Hamam, which attracts attention with its Ottoman inscriptions on the belly stones, is located on Divanyolu, very close to the Grand Bazaar.
The construction of this bath, where you can discover the subtleties of Ottoman bath culture, took 600 years. It is considered one of Mimar Sinan’s masterpieces and its fame has spread beyond the country. Impressive details such as its diamond-headed columns, flamboyant domes, and daylight coming in through small holes in the domes make this hammam even more unique.
Çemberlitaş Hamam, being one of the favorite baths of many world-famous names, has gained a serious reputation in this way, but its real fame comes from the fact that it is the place where many movies and commercials were filmed.
Turkish bath prices of Çemberlitaş Hamamı (Nov. 2022)
|Hamam Entrance||570 TL|
|Scrub – Foam (Entrance Included)||850 TL|
|Scrub – Foam – Oil Massage ( Entrance Included)||1250 TL|
Cağaloğlu Hamam, the last major Ottoman Turkish bath built in Istanbul, was built by Mahmud I. It is one of the popular historical hammams of Istanbul. Although the construction plan of the bath was designed by architect Süleyman Aga, the construction was completed by architect Abdullah Aga. Cağaloğlu Hamam differs from the other classical baths of Istanbul with its baroque style. With its marble pool, a large dome, cantilevers, consoles, and magnificent 3-story fountain, this bath is one of the most beautiful baths in the city. Dating back to 1741, the bathhouse was built to provide income for Hagia Sophia. Located on Yerebatan Street connecting Sultanahmet to Cağaloğlu, it is one of the most central baths in Fatih.
Turkish bath prices of Cağaloğlu Hamamı (Nov. 2022)
|Traditional Turkish bath ritual||100 Euro|
|Luxury Ottoman Service||160 Euro|
|Cağaloğlu Hammam Magic||300 Euro|
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam, one of the best-known works of Mimar Sinan in Istanbul, is a symbol of Tophane. It was built in the 16th century by Kılıç Ali Pasha, a famous Ottoman commander, to serve his soldiers. This Turkish bath, known for its elephant eye decorated dome that transmits light, is one of the most preferred baths by Istanbulites, especially for traditional events. This bath, which has the second largest dome in Istanbul, serves women in the morning and for men in the afternoon. At Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam, you can experience the traditional hammam ritual and then sip Ottoman sherbet in the resting area. This bathhouse also has a small shop selling bath products. Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam, which offers a magnificent experience in its unique atmosphere with traces of history, was reopened in 2012 after a detailed restoration and has remained one of the most popular baths in the city ever since.
Turkish bath prices of Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamamı (Nov. 2022)
|Turkish bath||960 TL|
|Turkish bath for kids (6-12 years)||600 TL|
The Ağa Hamam dates back to the conquest of Istanbul in 1454. It was built by Fatih Sultan Mehmet after the conquest. However, the bath was not open to the public at that time, only the Sultan and princes could use it. Located a few minutes away from Galatasaray Hamam, Ağa Hamam is one of the most preferred baths in Beyoğlu. It is also one of the most affordable baths in the city.
Turkish bath prices of Ağa Hamamı (Nov. 2022)
|Traditional Package||850 TL|
|Massage Package||1250 TL|
|Ottoman Package||1650 TL|
Mihrimah Sultan Hamamı
Suleiman the Magnificent had Mimar Sinan build a bathhouse for his daughter that was completed in 1565. According to historical records, it was built between 1562 and 1565 as a double bath in a design that was common in the Classical period. Mihrimah Sultan Bath plays an important role in Turkish Bath culture. Unfortunately, there are no prices available for the public. We recommend calling them for more information: +90 212 523 04 87.
Constructed in 1640 by Kösem Sultan, Çinili Hamam is one of the oldest baths in Istanbul and is located in Üsküdar on the Anatolian side. Named after the special tiles used during its construction, this Turkish bath is also used in various art projects. Unfortunately, you cannot see the tiles of the bath today, since they have been stolen. What makes this bath special from other hammams is that its domes are much higher than other Turkish baths.
Suleymaniye Bath, one of the most important historical buildings of Istanbul, is also one of the best-known baths in the city. The bath, with its magnificent dome, was built by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent during the construction of the Suleymaniye Mosque. It is also one of the works of Mimar Sinan and like the other works of the great architect, this bath has dazzling architecture and ornaments. The bath, which is divided into 3 sections: cold, warm, and hot, is located in an easily accessible location in Süleymaniye. Another prominent feature of the bath, which also has a special section belonging to Suleiman the Magnificent, is that it has been heated with wood for centuries. The bath, which is still heated with wood today, differs from many baths in Istanbul in this respect.
- All-Inclusive Tradional Hamam Services: 65 Euros per person.
- You can also visit this hammam as a couple.
Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı
Hürrem Sultan Hamam, one of the most luxurious baths in Istanbul, is located in the heart of Sultanahmet. Standing out with its easily accessible location and different packages, this bath is mostly popular among tourists, but it is also one of the favorite baths of Istanbulites. Hürrem Sultan Hamam, also known as Haseki Hamam, was built by Mimar Sinan in 1557 by ‘Hürrem Sultan’, the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. The hammam is divided into 3 sections: lukewarm, warm, and cold. The cold section includes VIP rooms, 48 lockers, massage rooms, and a vitamin bar, while the warmth section consists of halvets, navel stones, and elvans. The lukewarm section is the section after the warmth and the place where scrubs are made.
Turkish bath prices of Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamamı (Nov. 2022)
|45 minutes Turkish bath||85 Euro|
|60 minutes Turkish bath||130 Euro|
|80 minutes Turkish bath||155 Euro|
|110 minutes Turkish bath||210 Euro|
This hammam, located very close to the Grand Bazaar, was built in 1475 by Gedik Ahmet Pasha, from whom it takes its name, to Architect Hayrettin, one of the famous architects of the period. It is one of the most popular double baths that is divided into men’s and women’s baths. It is also difficult to find a bath with a pool in the area, but there is a pool here. So it is also an ideal place for those who want to enjoy swimming.
Frequently asked questions about Hammams and Turkish baths
The most important detail when choosing a hammam is that it is clean and has good references. Other criteria include the fact that the baths have a tourist business certificate.
When you enter the hammam, a tellak is allocated to you. The tellak determines an order according to the services you will receive: if you want to be scrubbed, first he gives you a pillow and an external peshtemal to soften you on the belly stone. While you rest there for about 20 minutes, your body both softens and rests, then the tellak takes you to the scrub. He puts you at the head of your own wash basin and starts scrubbing. After removing the dead skin on your softened body, he washes you with a nice soap from head to toe. Then he takes you back to the belly stone and gives you a soapy massage. After about 15 minutes of massage, he takes you back to the basin and cleans you well. Then he washes you one last time with soapy washcloths and takes you out and wraps you up beautifully with towels. You rest in the lobby and then check out.
As you may know, the question of clothing in the hammam is quite simple. You wear a peshtemal made of cotton fabric with classical patterns or if the hammam has its own patterns, you wear them. The peshtemal is changed 2-3 times during the periods of bathing, scrubbing, and resting in the hammam, and a towel is wrapped around the body and head during rest.
Two types of scrubs are used in the hammam. One is a pouch made for normal skin, one is a pouch made for thicker skin, according to the customer’s needs and requests. Thin or thick pouches are usually applied depending on the difficulty of removing the dirt in the bath.
The person who does the work in the bath is called tellak, if it is a man, it is called tellak and if it is a woman, it is called natır. He/she performs such services as scrubbing, soapy massage, bubble baths, special massages and so on.
After sweating on the navel stone, guests go to the washing basin called kurna. The tellak performs a white or black scrub according to the customer’s request, with as much pressure as the body accepts. Then, with the help of a washcloth, washing is done from head to toe.
The navel stone is the hottest part of the bath. Here, bath guests lie down for about 20 minutes to release toxins and soften the body. After this, they move on to washing or scrubbing. The material of the navel stone is marble, angular or round in accordance with the decorative structure of the bath. It is always kept clean.
If you visit the hammam during winter months, you need to be very careful afterward. When you leave the bath and go to the cold air outside, a shock effect can hit you. Therefore, you should wait in the hammam lobby until your body temperature returns to normal. When you leave the lobby, you should wrap up tightly with appropriate clothing. In summer you don’t have to worry that much, even a t-shirt should be sufficient.
Although the temperature may vary from bath to bath, the average temperature in the hot section of the hammam and the area of the navel stone is 40-42 degrees.
Massage in the hammam is a very popular service, especially after the body is relaxed, the massage is much more effective. For massage, it is recommended to get a soapy massage, not necessarily an oil massage.
Although hammam and sauna are partly similar, they are quite different from each other. The hammam is a larger area, while the sauna is a very small area. In the sauna, toxins are quickly eliminated by sweating at a higher temperature. In the bath, sweating is slower and at a more appropriate temperature. Those who have breathing problems are more comfortable in Turkish baths due to the larger area.
You cannot go to the hammam on a full stomach. It is best to go to the hammam 2 hours after eating. It can cause dizziness and nausea. Since water loss will occur in the bath, plenty of liquid should be consumed. Although it is wrong to enter it full, it will not be right to enter it very hungry. Some people may faint due to the loss of minerals and fluids they have experienced when they enter the hammam hungry.
Whether male or female, Turkish baths today are one of the most preferred applications for relaxation and deep cleansing of the skin. In the past, there were only men’s or only women’s hammams in different places, but today, men’s and women’s sections are separated in one hammam and the same services are provided from both sides.
Hammam has many health benefits. The most interesting benefit is that it makes it easier to secrete happiness hormones called serotonin and endorphin. After the bath, the person’s body becomes lighter and it also helps to mentally open their perceptions. In addition, the bath is a very effective method in purifying the nerves and stress experienced by today’s people.