A Turkish bath is the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of Istanbul. The hammam, also known as the Turkish bath, is a place for bathing, cleansing, and relaxation. A staple in the Ottoman culture, the Turkish bath operates using a special mechanism that runs hot and cold water. The Ottoman Empire’s tradition of public bathing dates back thousands of years, with each Sultan commissioning a hammam to be built. The most prominent Turkish baths were built by Mimar Sinan, the chief Ottoman architect.
The Cağaloğlu Hamam
The Cağaloğlu Hamam is a double Turkish bath built in the new Baroque style in 1741 during the reign of Mahmud I. The cool room and the tepidity room in the Cağaloğlu Hamam feature a different style than that of other Turkish baths with classical Ottoman architecture. The 300-year-old bath boasts separate sections for men and women. Listed as one of the ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die’ in the New York Times bestseller by Patricia Schultz, the Cağaloğlu Hamam is the last hammam to be built in the Ottoman Empire.
Address: Prof. Kazım İsmail Gürkan Cad. No: 24 Cağaloğlu, Eminönü/Istanbul
Still standing since 1557, this bath is one of the most recognizable sights in Istanbul with its main dome, flanked by semi-domes. The bath was commissioned by Suleiman the Magnificent and designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan. Sinan considers this building as his “apprenticeship work.” In addition to the bath, the Süleymaniye Mosque was designed as a “külliye”, an Islamic complex with adjacent structures to service both religious and cultural needs. Located in Beyazıt, this bath is comprised of three sections.
Address: Mimar Sinan Caddesi No: 20. Süleymaniye/Istanbul
The historical Çinili Hamam was commissioned by Kösem Sultan, the wife of the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I, in 1640. Unfortunately, Kösem Sultan was unable to see the bath finished so one of her siblings stepped in to complete its construction. This historical bath housed many photographers and, thanks to its striking beauty, it has been featured in many TV series and art projects. With its high-domed male and female sections, the Çinili Hamam remains in service. It offers traditional body scrubbing, bubble massage and oil massage.
Address: Valide-i Atik Mh., 34664 Üsküdar/Istanbul
The Historical Gedikpaşa Bath
A signature building of the Ottoman architecture, the Historical Gedikpaşa Bath was commissioned by Gedik Ahmet Pasha in 1475. Located near the Grand Bazaar, The Gedikpaşa is the only historical bath that houses a sauna right next to the navel stone, the heated marble platform at the center. It is among the double baths of Istanbul, with both female and male sections.
Address: Hamam Cad. No: 65–67 Gedikpaşa/Istanbul
The Historical Galatasaray Hamam
The Historical Galatasaray Hamam was commissioned in 1484 by Beyazıt II, who reigned for many years, to fulfill the wish of Gül Baba, an Ottoman Bektashi dervish poet. Boasting a colossal design, the bath is popular among tourists. A significant architectural heritage of the Ottoman Empire, the bath served many pashas, kadis, grand viziers and sultans.
Address: Turnacıbaşı Sokak, No: 24 Galatasaray–Beyoğlu/Istanbul
Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam
Named after one of the most prominent figures in Ottoman maritime history, Kılıç Ali Paşa Hamam has become a symbol of Tophane, a district on the European side of Istanbul. A Mimar Sinan design, the bath was relaunched in 2012 following meticulous restoration. The building is thought to have been built between 1578 and 1583. It is notable because it contains the second-largest dome in Istanbul and semi-domes adorned with translucent elephant eyes. Outside the bath is a small souvenir shop that you can visit.
Address: Kemankeş Mah. Hamam Sok. No: 1 34425 Tophane Karaköy/Istanbul
Çemberlitaş is another historical bath located near the Grand Bazaar. Built by Mimar Sinan in 1584 to Nur Banu Sultan’s specifications, Çemberlitaş is a double hammam with both male and female sections. Çemberlitaş was once named “Valide Sultan” and “Gül Hamamı.” In Seyahatname, his travelogue, Evliya Çelebi refers to the bath as “Hammam of Murat III.” The navel stones in some baths are adorned with Ottoman inscriptions. The historical building serves many international and domestic tourists, and offers a pleasing bathing experience.
Address: Vezirhan Cad. No: 8, Çemberlitaş/Istanbul