Traditional Turkish Bath


Vezneciler Turkish Bath Göbek Taşı

Yesterday I experienced my second Turkish Bath – Hamam. Travel can be stressful and a sauna, soak, scrub, and massage sounded appealing. Hamams in Istanbul are inexpensive and the one I visited – Vezneciler Turkish Bath – in Fatih District is said to have “curative water” – yeah!

Vezneciler Turkish Bath

Ottoman Ruler Sultan Beyazid II built the small traditional Hamam in 1481. Renovated in 1950, the private bath opened to the public to provide income for the madrasa.

Why take a Turkish Bath?

The benefits of a Turkish bath include:

  • Deep cleansing the skin
  • Discharging toxins from the body
  • Accelerating blood circulation
  • Stimulating the immune system
  • Improving muscular and arthritis pain
  • Helping heal respiratory issues by expanding air passages
  • Diminishing inflammation

Vezneciler Turkish Bath

The woman who helped with my Hamam was gentle, but it’s an extremely thorough process which I’ll try to explain below. I highly recommend having a Hamam – but parts of the procedure are not comfortable. The result – feeling clean, rejuvenated, vibrant, and refreshed – is well worth any discomfort.

Lathering

Turkish Bath Procedure

Loosening Up

The first step is relaxing and “loosening up” your body. It’s important to sweat during this process. After undressing and wrapping myself in a Turkish towel, I proceeded to the marble Hamam room and the heated central marble platform. No one else was in the room, and it was totally silent. I laid flat on my back on the heated platform for about 15 – 20 minutes. I was looking up at a large circular ceiling dome with small holes where the sun was shining through in golden beams.

Sauna Vezneciler Turkish Bath

“The loosening up part of the Hammam process is a perfect time to explore the architecture of a Turkish bath. In most cases, an impressive room completely covered in marble featuring a big dome, several decorative water basins, and an impressive göbek taşı – the central, raised platform above the heating source.”

Vezneciler Turkish Bath

While I slowly “baked” on the marble slab and wondered how long it would take to become well done – suddenly the attendant came back to save me. She led me into an adjoining room with an extremely hot sauna where I remained for another 15 looooooong minutes. If the marble slab seemed hot – yikes for the sauna!!! I tried to relax but just as I was about to wimp out and escape the sauna, the attendant came back, handed me a bottle of water, and led me to the “scrubbing” room.

Türk Hamam

Soaking and Scrubbing

The soaking, scrubbing, and washing part of the process took place in a small room off the göbek taşı next to an ornate water basin. The attendant soaked my body with soap and warm water and while slippery and wet I received a “peeling” with a rough cloth mitt (kese) used to scrub and exfoliate the skin. A finer mitt was used for the face and neck.

Washing, Rinsing, Cooling, Oil Massage

The vigorous scrubbing was followed by a second more thorough lathering with a sudsy cloth swab and a wet full-body massage – head, face, and hair included – then a refreshing rinsing with cold water! After the bath, I sat in the tea room covered in Turkish towels and sipped a cup of green tea followed by a 30-minute oil massage – absolute heaven!

Bath Circular

The Hamam sends a driver to your hotel to pick you up and then takes you home afterwards – an excellent idea since at the end of a Turkish bath you’ll be feeling a bit rubbery. Ladies should lose any thought of maintaining their hair or makeup during the process.

Dome Vezneciler Turkish Bath

There was no opportunity to take photos so I’ve attached media shots from the Vezneciler Turkish Bath website. In comparison, the experience was like the first Hamam I had in Cappadocia several years ago. It’s a lighter version of massages experienced at an Ayurvedic spa in South India about 10 years ago. Those intense body cleansing treatments and deep tissue massages have no rival!

One thought on “Traditional Turkish Bath

  1. It sounds an amazing experience. I am not sure I would handle the sauna though. My normal blood pressure is low, and I get light-headed in that environment. I suppose there is not the option to skip that step though.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s