Have a look at:
Thanks for that link! I was surprised just the other day to read a thread - despite all the previous debates on this forum - by somebody who still declared themselves too nervous after things they had read to try a traditional hamam and wanted to opt for a sanitised hotel spa experience instead! Personally I would say - go for it! I absolutely loved my first ever experience at the Cemberlitas (as did my OH in the men's section) and that has been the first of many repeat visits (to traditional style not hotel hamams) elsewhere in Turkey.
I agree Attagul. I rather think that the whole point of visiting a hamam in Istanbul is to see what traditional hamams were like.
It was such a part of Turkish culture - and I love the idea of it being a place where the women could escape from their roles, and have a good gossip, make plans, match make, and have probably their only 'me time'. There is so much history within the walls of the old hamams - plus they are so beautiful.
I am tempted to go again on my next visit (which thankfully is very soon!).
perfect way to spend an hour on a cold,wintry day.
Great info. Heading to Istanbul at end of next week and Haman is definitely in the plan. We're staying at Ada Hotel so can anyone recommend a traditional haman near our hotel that both me and my male friend can visit at same time. I see that some hamans alternate days for men and woman but this would take too much of our precious time in Istanbul.
Also, I'm still not clear on what women wear. I'm used to massages and body scrubs au natural but don't want to (a) look like a dumb tourist if I walk around in a towel and (b) offend the locals. What would a Turkish woman wear at a haman?
Cagaloglu on Yerebaton Caddesi is a hamam mentioned in "10,000 Places to See Before you Die," so I imagine it must be great... Here's their website
The only traditional hamam where you can bathe together in the same place is Suleymaniye Hamam.
If you go to Cemberlitas (as mentioned in the article) you can bathe at the same time so you will not waste time but in different parts of the hamam.
"What would a Turkish woman wear in the hamam?"
Most often just the pestemal(a large checked cloth)and nothing else.But some of the older ladies keep on a vest and pants,some of the younger ones wear a swim suit.In the ladies section it is ver ystrictly ladies only and so many Turkish ladies are quite comfortable about sitting just with the cloth and removing it to wash themselves and if you are happy doing that too then feel free to.The mixed hamams of the tourism area's are diffferent though and nudity is not allowed.
In the traditional days of the past the hamam was also a place where Mothers with sons would eye up potential brides ,sizing up their child bearing hips and whether they looked clean and free from blemishes and imperfections:) And the young girls would single out for extra attention the Mothers of any young man they had THEIR eye on!
Since the hamam tradition was talked about in this topic I thought I may share a section from the article I wrote about Hamam traditions in my website and in some Spa websites:
" .. The Turkish Bath has always been a very important part of the everyday life of Turkish men and women for many centuries. The bath ritual as we know today has its roots in the washing traditions of the Turks that they brought from Central Asia , added to the Byzantine and Roman traditions they adopted in Anatolia .
Particularly for women, rich and poor, the Turkish Bath has served as the heart of social life in a restrictive society serving as a women's club. But it was not only an everyday hygienic and social occasion: women celebrated important occasions at the bath such as weddings and births. Ceremonies included the bridal bath, the forty day bath on the 40th day after baby's birth, holiday bath on the eve of religious holidays, and the guest bath to which the hostess would invite her friends and relatives to meet a special visitor. The baths were also perfect places for a prospective mother-in law to find a suitable bride for her sons, choosing the prettiest and the healthiest looking girl as a potential daughter-in-law as this was a rare opportunity for more intimate observation.
Baths for women were also beauty salons where facial, hair and body care was available all day long together with herbal treatment for many conditions and therapy with various oils. A woman's body was beautified and her soul restored at the bath. The perspiring body was rubbed with hand mitts made of silk and linen to cleanse it of all the old skin, and lathered up numerous times to purify it of toxins.
For such an important social activity, preparation for the bath was very important. Every woman had typically around 15 different bathing accessories, and for women of means the list could be much longer. Examples of these accessories are today regarded as works of art ......."
Just been to Cemberlitas. You are given a dinky bag with a pair of black briefs to wear and your checked cloth. The ladies who scrub you wear these briefs and also put on a black bra during the time they wash you (removing it after!), I guess they do not want to bash you with their rather pendulous breasts!!!! For those of us who book very late night flights, it is perfect to visit the Hammam on your last evening - we went to Cemberlitas at 10pm as it shuts at midnight and chilled out with Hammam and massage so not only were we clean but also relaxed prior to our flight.
Thanks for sharing this, the link is very useful! Do you have recommendations for less touristic places than Cemberlitas or Cagaloglu ?