The Turkish bath, also known as hamam, is a cultural and historical legacy of the Ottoman Empire. The hamam was not only a place for washing and cleansing, but also a social hub where people could meet, chat, relax and enjoy various services. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of the Turkish bath during the Ottoman period and how it influenced the society, architecture and art of that time.
The origins of the Turkish bath can be traced back to the 14th century, when the Ottomans adopted and adapted the Roman bathing practices that they encountered in their conquered lands. The Roman baths had pools of hot and cold water, but the Turks preferred to use running water instead of stagnant water, which they considered unclean. They also added a steam room and a massage room to the bathing complex, creating a unique and distinctive style of bathing.
The Turkish bath was not only a matter of hygiene, but also of piety. According to Islamic beliefs, cleanliness is a prerequisite for performing religious duties such as praying or reading the Quran. Therefore, the Ottomans built many hamams near mosques or other religious buildings, so that people could purify themselves before worshiping. The hamam was also a place where people could learn about Islam from teachers or preachers who visited the baths.
The Turkish bath was also a place for socializing and entertainment. People from all walks of life, rich and poor, men and women, young and old, could visit the hamam and enjoy its benefits. The hamam was divided into separate sections for men and women, each with its own entrance, dressing room, bathing area and service staff. The hamam offered various services such as hair cutting, shaving, waxing, manicure, pedicure, massage, scrubbing, henna painting and even fortune telling. The hamam was also a venue for celebrations such as weddings, births or circumcisions.
The Turkish bath was also a source of inspiration for architecture and art. The hamam was usually a domed building with a central hall surrounded by smaller rooms. The walls and floors were covered with marble or tiles, often decorated with geometric patterns or floral motifs. The domes had small windows that let in natural light and created a mystical atmosphere. The hamam was also adorned with fountains, basins, taps and pipes that provided water and steam. Some of the most famous examples of Ottoman hamam architecture are the Çemberlitaş Hamamı in Istanbul, built by Mimar Sinan in 1584; the Vezneciler Hamamı in Istanbul, built by Sultan Bayezid II in 1481; and the Ali Gholi Agha Hamamı in Isfahan, Iran .
The Turkish bath is a remarkable cultural heritage that reflects the Ottoman way of life, values and aesthetics. Today, many hamams are still operating in Turkey and other countries that were once part of the Ottoman Empire. They offer a unique experience for visitors who want to immerse themselves in history and tradition. The Turkish bath is more than just a bath; it is a ritual that cleanses the body and soul.