Cagaloglu Hammam, located on Yerebatan Street near the Grand Bazaar, was featured in Patricia Schultz’s book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” // © 2015 Cagaloglu Hammam
Feature image (above): Istanbul is home to several historical hammams from the 16th century. // © 2015 Cagaloglu Hammam
There’s no better way to unleash your inner Ottoman emperor in Istanbul than by bathing at a traditional “hammam,” or Turkish bath. The city is packed with hammams that will take tourists straight back to the days of 16th century Turkey and all the indulgence and opulence that came with it. Here are three historical hammams to check out in Istanbul.
Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami
If you’re looking to truly splurge, visit Ayasofya Hurrem Sultan Hamami. The location of the hammam alone — directly between the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia — makes it a sight worth seeing. However, the experience inside is equally impressive.
The 16th-century hammam was built on the historical site of Baths of Zeuxippus for the religious community at Hagia Sophia. Inside, bathers will find stained glass, domed ceilings and sleek white marble that encases the bathing rooms. Both the men’s and women’s sections have three basic, interconnected rooms: the changing room, the cool room and the hot room.
The “basic” package includes a bath with a gold-plated bath bowl, a toiletry set, a traditional body scrub, a bubble-wash massage and a head and neck massage. Visitors can up the ante with the most expensive package, which includes a skin-refining peel, a body clay mask, a fruit plate, an aromatherapy massage and a dessert of apricots, walnuts and tea. Rates run from about $90 to $182.
Cagaloglu Hamami, located on Yerebatan Street near the Grand Bazaar, is an absolute sight — so much so that it was listed in Patricia Schultz’s book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”
Built in 1741, the hammam has high, domed ceilings, marble fountains, an interior garden and two levels of individual changing rooms. Guests can book a full-service treatment — such as peeling and washing treatments, complete bath services, aromatherapy and more — or they can use the bath facilities on their own.
Self-service bath use starts around $32. A Turkish Massage includes relaxation in the hammam, followed by a complete body massage, all for about $42. A peeling and washing treatment is a vigorous exfoliation for $48, and a complete bath service is $53 and includes a combination of the Turkish massage and peeling and washing. There are more luxurious and expensive treatments, as well.
Cemberlitas Hamami is a Turkish bath in the Cemberlitas neighborhood, also near the Grand Bazaar. Inside the historical building, which dates back to the 16th century, bathers will find a royal atmosphere, with high, domed ceilings and Islamic-style archways. There are 38 washing stalls, and a large, heated stone slab underneath the wide dome is illuminated by glass globe “elephant eyes” that catch outside light from all angles, puncturing the room with bursts of sunlight.
Upon entrance, guests choose their services, such as self-service bathing, a scrubbing Sultan’s Bath, aromatherapy and reflexology. Entrance costs $15, and a massage is about $23.