Hamams, a favorite Istanbul day trip activity. Archaeologous recommends a delicious traditional Hamam water-therapy-massage session to purify both the body and the soul. This traditional 1.5 hour steam, scrub, rinse and massage treatment has been in use by the Turks for over 600 years and they revere it as a necessity. We give thanks to the Romans for bringing the idea here and to the mother of Sultan Murat III, whose idea was to build a hamam to increase revenue for the palace.
WHAT TO EXPECT…Taking a Hamam (Turkish bath)
First of all, it is a fully enjoyable experience, very ethical and therapeutic.. You’ll be there for approx. 1.5 hours. Cemberlitas was built as a traditional “double” hamam (one side for men and the other for women). However, during road construction in the mid 1800’s, much of the womens’ section was destroyed, so it is smaller. Women attend to women and men attend to men unless a mixed group rents the whole bath. You’ll be provided with a towel and a “pestemal”, which is a large fringed garment made of cotton or silk, with which you may wrap your body. This usually is worn during the whole bathing process.
- Tip #1 If you are a bit modest, bring a bathing suit.
- Tip #2 Bring your own soap and shampoo to save money since there is a charge for these things.
- Tip #3 Drink plenty of water as you will be slightly dehydrated and take time to cool down before going outside.
- Tip #4 For family groups, you may reserve a section of the bath at a certain time and have mixed bathing.
Now we’re ready…. You enter the low “heated” marble platform and spend time just laying down and relaxing on this platform. This is the “sweating out the impurities” part of the experience. After you think you have had enough perspiring, you go to the open cubicles which have marble basins called “Kurnes”. Either sit near the basin, fill it with hot water and bath yourself using the copper/brass bowls called “Tas” to rinse the “impurities” off. Or, the second way would be to request the attendant to scrub you with a coarse mitt, “Kese”, made of natural fibers. Both the scrubbing by the attendant and the delicious soapy bubble massage are optional and will cost a little extra (well worth it). You will feel amazingly content and ready for the rest of your cruise after this ancient Hamam magic.