Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Istanbul Hamam Guide: Unisex Hamams

One of the main reasons for young generation being not so interested in hamams is the gender discrimination (Probably rising prices of the hamams getting more and more touristic everyday is the second). You have to split into two if you go with a group of boys and girls. Of course there is no such discrimination if you prefer to go crisp and clean hotel hamams. But these places are both over-priced and their imitated historical atmosphere is not satisfying. There are three hamams which were originally designed as to be a unisex hamam.

sulymaniye hamam inside
Suleymaniye Hamam inside
First one is the ornate Mimar Sinan structure Suleymaniye Hamam (Built in 1557) which is located near Suleymaniye Mosque. But this unisex hamam has just a “minor” criteria. Turks can’t get in there alone without their foreign friends (This “Turkish Bath”s web site doesn’t even have a Turkish section). But it’s not also that easy even if you are a tourist who is willing to lie down on the heated marble (“Göbek taşı” in Turkish) to relax. You must have a hotel reservation. So if you are Turkish and you have a foreign friend who is staying in a hotel then you can enjoy this not-so-very hot hamam (These touristic hamams are not as hot as the regular hamams). Mimar Sinan had taken bath in this hamam from the day it was built until the day he died (1588). Private rooms (“Halvet” in Turkish) which Sinan and Kanuni Sultan Suleyman (Suleyman the Magnificent) used to bath are still being preserved. Entrance fee is 70 TL. Rubbing (Rubbing with bath glove means “Kese” in Turkish) and massage is included to the fee.

suleymaniye hamam
Suleymaniye Hamam enterance
Second one is the small and untended Kosk Hamam in Cagaloglu. This hamam also serves just tourists as a unisex hamam after 7:00 pm. Before that it only serves men from all “nationality”.

Acemoglu Hamam inside
There is no either gender or local-foreigner discrimination in this third and the last hamam. This historical hamam which belongs to Bestekar (Composer) Dede Efendi’s family and also caused him to gain “hamamzade” title is Acemoglu Hamam. Acemoglu Hamam has served for a long time but suffered from neglect and has been shut down for a while. Then a part of the hamam was taken down and an ugly hotel was built there named Celal Aga Konagı. Acemoglu Hamam is also being runned by this hotel. A small part of the hamam was restored as a hamam again and the other parts are being used by the hotel as a cafe. In other words even if you don’t face the discrimination and may enjoy hamam, you will be giving credit to a plunder of history. If you make a booking, you may experience a “semi-historical” hamam for all excluded 35 TL.

Acemoglu Hamam surrounded by an ugly hotel
One last wish; We hope Ayasofya (Hagia Sofia) Hamam which is being restored nowadays would be a unisex hamam, and Istanbulers may enjoy a beautiful historical hamam.

Note: If you want to join our hammam tour. please click the link below:           

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