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TURKISH BATH & HAMAM

The baths or 'hamams' as they are named, are for many aspects of health, not just for external cleanliness. Before Turkey was established as a separate country, the Romans, Byzantines, and nomadic peoples of the region had their own variations of bathing rituals. These traditions combined, creating a different variation of these ancient bathing habits, The Turkish Bath
T
he bather enters the dry heat of a sweating area. Afterwards, the bather begins to perspire heavily because of a wet steam.The skin is then washed with soap and warm water and the muscles massaged. After being scoured and washed, the bather's body temperature returns to normal from swimming in cold water. Closely interweaved with everyday life, as well as the Muslim mandates for cleanliness and respect for the varied functions of water, the hamam will probably survive modernity with many other things in Western Asia. The "pestemal" (pesh-te-mahl), a large towel fringed at both ends and wrapped around the torso, from below the armpits to about mid-thigh , as the woman made her way to the "kurna" or marble basin. The pestemal would be striped or checked, a colored mixture of silk and cotton, or pure cotton, or even pure silk.

The "tas", or bowl for pouring water over the body, was always of metal. Weather silver, gilt or tinned copper, or of brass, the tas always had grooved and inlaid ornamentation.

One finds a soap case of metal, usually copper, with a handle on top like a handbag, and perforated at the bottom to allow water to run out. Not only soap goes into such a case, but also a coarse mitt for scouring down the skin, a webbing of date-palm or other fibers for lathering on the soap, and combs both fine and broad-toothed made of horn or ivory.

The "kese" (keh-seh), that rough cloth mitt carried in the soap case, not only scoured the dirt out of the pores, but served to deliver a bracing massage. The soaping web, on the other hand, was specially woven out of hair or plant fibers.

Cagaloglu Hamam
Located in Cagaloglu on the right side of the Yerebatan (Basilica cistern) Street , these Baths were built by Sultan Mahmud I in 1741 to provide revenue for Hagia Sophia Mosque. The architect is unknown.

Cagaloglu hamam is a double hamam with section for both men and women. It was unique in its emloyment of Baroque and Classic Ottoman architectural motifs and was the last of the great hamams to be built before their construction was forbidden by Sultan Mustafa III in 17+9, owing to the increasing needs for water and wood in Istanbul.

Cemberlitas Hamam
The Cemberlitas Hamam is located on the Divanyolu near the Cemberlitas (Banded Column). Ot was built by Sultan Murat IIIís mother, Nurbanu Sultan in 1584 to provide a source of revenue for the Atik Valide Mosque Complex in Uskudar. Its architect was Sinan.

It was originally built as a double hamam both men and women seperate sections. But during the reign of Sultan Abdulaziz (1841-1824) part of the womenís section was destroyed to allow for the widening nearby road. As a result only the menís section is in use today.

Eski Hamam
Located in the entrance to Darż Street, where Dogancilar Street and Uncular street intersect in Uskudar, is the Eski Hamam. While the architect and the year in which was built are unknown, certain evidence points to it having built int the 15th century.

Also known as the Sifa (Cure) Hamam, it has seperate sections for men and women. Both sections are in use today. Although the oldest hamam in Uskudar, it has still managed to retain its original appearance.

Galatasaray Hamam
The Galatasaray Hamam is located in Galatasaray at the junction of Turnacibasi and Capanoglu streets. It was built in 1715 as a public Bath in line with classical Turkish hamam architectural design.

It underwnet renovation in 1965 and while its main structure remained intact, its architectural details and interior portions were redesignated and as such it has lost some of its historic attraction.

Functionally, though, a womenís section was added during the renovations in 1965 and the hamam is still operating. Well maintained up to the present day, it caters for both locals and foreign tourists.


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