The 7 Best Turkish Baths in Istanbul


5. Galatasaray Hamam

The legend behind Galatasaray surrounds Ottoman Sultan Bayezid II: following a hunting party he walked through the dense forest and came across a revered man called Father of Roses (Gul Baba), in his small cabin. A celebrated poet and exalted Muslim dervish, conveyed wishes to Beyazid, who vowed to follow them through. Gul Baba requested a mosque and kulliye (adjacent building with facilities including a hamam), to be constructed and the hamam include a massive dome. Beyazid took one yellow and one red rose as offerings, accepted his wishes, and in 1481, built Galatasaray with the beautiful kulliye. The sogukluk (hamam’s cooling off area) is defined by large marble slabs where massages are given following a steam and/or soak. Extremely hot steam rooms are favored by the Turks, and since Galatasaray is a local favorite, the steam room and gobektasi hot stone are just that: piping hot.

4. Beylerbeyi Hamam

Near Beylerbeyi pier and ferry, Beylerbeyi Hamam is next to its namesake mosque and easily identified by its wooden façade built in Ottoman style. Sultan Abdulhamid I ordered the building of Beylerbeyi in the late 1800s and dedicated it to Rabia Sermi Kadin, his mother. Traditionally, mosques were always built with adjacent hamams because of the revenue the bathhouses generated for maintenance and updates; Beylerbeyi was built with that in mind, and has been an important source of income for the entire complex. The marble fountain located in the cooling area (the stop between cool-off area and hot bath) is a definite highlight as is the expansive wooden ceiling in the changing area, called the Camekan. Here, there is also a hot stone, which many ancient mosques have, four private rooms (halvets), and 13 fountains (kurnas). Beylerbeyi is a must-see, accommodating women in the morning and men in the late afternoon.

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