So my visit to Istanbul would not be complete without a visit to a Turkish bath and after a day of sightseeing and shopping, 3 friends and I decided to visit the historical Çemberlitaş Hamami which is located just off of Divan Yolu (Divanyolu) Caddesi in Old Historic Istanbul. It is nestled right in the middle of some the most historical sites in Istanbul. The Vezirhan Monument (build by Constantinople I) is right across the street and the tombs of Sultan Mahmut II and Ali Baba are right nearby.
So the entrance is kinda non descript, look out for the steady treaffic going in and out. By the way, this is a unisex bath, but I think that there are separate areas for men and women. Once inside, we were presented with a list of services and I got the traditional style bath, which cost 69TL (Turkish Lira) (about US$35). The traditional style bath consists of steam and a bubble bath. So we paid and received our keys for the lockers and our peştamals. What’s a peştamal? It’s a traditional cotton Turkish towel! There is no pressure to go completely naked, you could wear a bathing suit during your service, or just panties or nothing at all. Your choice!
We were led into the sıcaklık, which is the large main bathing area. What a beautiful place! High vaulted ceilings made of what looks like terracotta with venting holes arranged in a pattern.
In the middle of the room, there was a massive multi-sided marble platform where ladies were getting their massages. On the perimeter there were rooms called halvet which contained bathing basins called kurna. Oh, so did I mention that it was incredible steamy in there?? Yes, like monsoon/tropical steamy. The Turks believe that you have to make yourself perspire as part of the cleansing. To do so, we went into one of the rooms (halvet) and poured really warm water using copper basins.
This is where you relax. One can spend as much time here steaming, or even using the heated pools. It was a great time to catch up on our adventures of the day. If I had thought about it, I would have put conditioner or some oil in my hair as it would have been great time to deep condition.
When I was ready, I received my massage and bubble wash, on the marble platform, from one of the attendants. She was really nice, spoke very little English, but we had no trouble communicating. She first scrubbed my entire body with a loofah and I do weekly exfoliations, but there were rolls of skin coming off! Then she bathed me in a soapy bubble bath.
She also offered to shampoo my hair, but I politely declined. Then off to the basins for rinsing! The entire massage and bath took about 15-20 minutes.
My friends and I then relaxed in the ‘recovery’ area of the hamam, where it was cooler and you could sip on some Turkish tea. I was astonished when I looked at the time and saw that we spent over 2 hours in there!!! Seriously!! I was so relaxed that I fell asleep on the couch. In de middle of de people hamam!! Eventually we walked back to our hotel, and I was pretty much useless the rest of the night. Talk about relaxed! I was almost comatosed. All we did was eat some the BEST Turkish Delight (I had pomegranate Turkish Delight) from the BEST confectioners in all of Turkey, Hafız Mustafa (which is in the Eminönü area), near to the Grand Bazaar and slept.
Don’t plan on blazing the streets of Taksim afterwards.
So if you ever make it to this amazing country, a visit to Çemberlitaş is a must. We had an amazing experience! And there is no need to make an appointment and it’s open every day from 6 am to 12 midnight.
Find out more information on Çemberlitaş Hamami on their website.
And here’s the info for Hafiz Mustafa.
Check out my previous post on my trip to Turkey with lots of pictures!