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What Are Turkish Baths? Top 10 Historical Turkish Baths in Istanbul to Experience

Turkish baths are famous for a good reason which is thoroughly explained in this guide. 

Turkish baths are popular as much as the Finnish baths also known as saunas. The Turkish bath, however, includes both the steamy process and the bathing process. What makes it so special is the clean feeling that you never get when you take a shower or bathe in your home. The Turkish bath or hamam makes you feel extremely clean through a lot scrubbing until you can actually see the dead skin coming off of you. 


Turkish bath, also known as hamam in Turkish, is a public bath similar to the concept of a sauna. There is hot and dry air flowing through these baths that are designed with marble tiles all around on the interior. This hot air helps people relax and makes it easy for the dirt to come out of the skin. 

The interior of hamam is designed in three different parts: the warm room, hot room and cooling-off room. The warm room is very similar to the sauna, however, it is made of marble. The hot room is where the air is much hotter and where the scrubbing and washing happens. The cooling-off room is basically the resting area for the bathers until they are ready to leave.

Historically, Turkish baths were social places where men and women hang out in their separate baths. Men would get together and talk about daily events. Even though women also used Turkish baths as a social gathering place, it was much more than that. Women had many ceremonies for big events with dancing and food in hamams in the past. Also, in the near past, women would look out for any beautiful girls for their sons to get married in hamams since they were able to see the pure beauty of the girls.

The girls who were going to get married soon would also have special days in hamams with their close girlfriends. Girls would prepare all sorts of food and play music inside the hamam to have fun. The friends of the soon-to-be bride would wash and scrub her taking turns for fun. This tradition is known as the Bridal Bath and it is still practiced today in many of the historical Turkish baths.


Turkish baths are separate for men and women. Let us paint an overall picture of how the bathing happens in hamams and what is so special about it. 

You first change your clothes in a designated room for each person and put on your special slippers that do not slip on the wet ground and peshtemal which is a special cloth that is lightweight and dries very quickly. It is used instead of a regular bath towel. The peshtemal is worn around the waist for men, reaching their knees at length. For women, the peshtemal is worn around the body almost like a strapless mini dress. It is advisable that you wear a swimsuit underneath the peshtemal for extra coverage. 

First, you walk into a small hot room called “the warm room” which is a lot like sauna except it is completely covered with marble tiles. After waiting a while in this room and when you are sweaty enough, it is time that you move onto a much bigger and hotter room. This room is “the hot room” where the real bathing experience happens. It has a huge marble stone in the middle which hot as well to help the skin soften and allow for better cleansing. 

A professional bath attendant takes you to the marble stone in the middle and pours hot water on your body -while you are still wearing your peshtemal, covering the private parts - and then starts to wash you with soap and scrub your skin as you are laying down. The scrubbing is not going to feel like any peeling you have ever done. It is going to hurt and your skin will turn red a little! But don’t worry, the professionals know what they are doing. You will not believe how much dead skin will come off and how your skin will resemble a baby’s skin afterword. 

After the scrubbing craze, you will receive a nice bubble massage to relax you. And then, the attendant will wash you one more time including your hair. Now you are ready to change back into your clothes and rest in “the cooling-off room” for your body temperature to adjust. 


The hot air and steam open up the pores on the skin, allowing the dirt to come out effectively, clearing the skin of any impurities. 

The hot air helps muscles to relax along with the body massage which reduces most of the pain in the body. 

It is helpful to those who have an issue sleeping since it relaxes the person on a different level. 

Toxins are eliminated from the body with the help of the heat and sweat.

It improves blood circulation in the body. 

It helps the bather to get rid of the symptoms of a lingering cold, opens up the stuffy nose and chest. 


Turkish baths are not social gathering places anymore as it was in the Ottoman Empire period. Today, the Turks visit the Turkish baths when they want to be cleaned properly and when they want to relax. Some people also prefer to visit a Turkish bath before an important event such as a wedding to be squeaky clean.


We have gathered a list of the best historical hamams in Istanbul for those who want to know how it feels to be extremely clean by experiencing it first hand. We recommend you to check the official pages of the hamams before visiting them to learn their working hours, etiquette and prices. 


The Çemberlitaş Hamam was built in 1584 by the famous architect Mimar Sinan. The experience in this Turkish bath is unique due to preserving its original tradition up to this day. The scrubbing and bubble massage costs 255 TL in the Çemberlitaş Hamamı. Please check the official website for more information.


The Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam was also built by the architect Mimar Sinan between the years of 1556 and 1557 by the order of the Hürrem Sultan who was the wife of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent. The hamam is open for both men and women to use today. The basic hamam experience that includes scrubbing, bubble massage lasts for 30 minutes and costs 55 €. Check the official website for more information about the prices.


The Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam was built between 1578 and 1583 by Mimar Sinan by the order of Kılıç Ali Paşa who was a great Ottoman admiral. This particular hamam is open only for women from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm and open for only men from 4:00 pm till 11:30 pm. It is required that you book a reservation before you visit the Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam. The traditional Turkish Bath experience costs 310 TL as of 2019. 


The Mihrimah Sultan Hamam was built between the years of 1562 and 1565 in Fatih by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. It is open for both men and women. 


The Cağaloğlu Hamam is the largest hamam among those that were built in the Ottoman period. It was built in 1741 under the reign of Sultan Mahmut I in the Fatih district. The basic hamam experience that includes scrubbing and bubble massage costs 50 € in the Cağaoloğlu Hamamı.


The Historical Gedikpaşa Hamam was built in 1475 by Gedik Ahmet Paşa. It is open to both men and women. It is known to be the only historical Turkish bath that has a fountain next to the marble stone in the middle of its hot room. 


The Historical Galatasaray Hamam was built in 1481 by the order of Sultan Beyazıt II. Back in the Ottoman Empire period, many sultans, religious judges and grand viziers bathed in this hamam. Due to its location close to Istiklal Caddesi, it is frequently visited by the tourists. 


The Süleymaniye Hamam was built between the years of 1550 and 1557 by the famous architect Mimar Sinan under the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent and served the Sultan himself. The hamam, today, is a mixed one that admits families and couples only. 


The Ağa Hamam was built in the year of 1454 in Çukurcuma by the order Sultan Mehmet II otherwise known as Mehmet the Conqueror who conquered Constantinople. The Ağa Hamam was special for the Sultan Mehmet II and his sons which opened to public use in 1923. 


The Çinili Hamamı is located in Uskudar and it was built in 1640 by the order of Kösem Sultan who was the wife of Sultan Ahmet I. The place receives its name due to the İznik tiles used in the structure which we cannot see anymore. 

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