‘A visit to Turkey is not complete’, we hear, ‘without having visited a Turkish Hammam’.
Having visited Turkey twice before, I had never thought of going for a Turkish Hammam. Seen as it was my third visit (third times a lucky charm!), and I was in one of the most interesting and complex cities in Turkey, I thought, ‘hey, why not, let’s give it a go!’.
After some research online, I found a place not far away from where we were staying. It was the perfect time to experience this; we were leaving in just a day.
The Hammam that I visited was called Kadirga Hamami. Located in the Kadirga area near the Kadirga Park, this place is not your common tourist spot with super expensive prices. The Hammam was originally built in 1505 for the Egyptian Governor Yahya Pasha bin Abdulhay.
Here we come face to face with some of the finest local men who come here to get some peace of mind, whilst also getting themselves completely bathed, pampered and cleaned up. Turkish bathing is not about popping in the shower, lathering and rinsing. No. It’s about way more than that. It’s a communal experience. It brings people together, to sit, talk, enjoy some cay (tea), but most importantly to purify themselves.
Entering through the doors below, I was greeted with a wide friendly smile from one of the workers. They informed me that they had separate areas for women and men.
I was given a private room and a towel-like cloth to wrap myself with. After undressing and wearing the cloth around my waist ( which is knee length from the waist), I was taken firstly to the dry hot sauna room. I was told to sit there for around 10 minutes and thereafter wash myself once my pores had opened up. Being extremely hot, I was profusely sweating from all my pores which I knew would help with the process of being cleansed. I had the entire sauna room to myself which was a very pleasant experience. After sitting in there for around 15 minutes, I was called over to a small cubicle wherein water was poured over me. One thing I should tell you, coming to a Turkish Hammam means being cleansed by another person. It is a very pleasant and cleansing experience, but if you’re not comfortable with the idea, maybe it’s best not to go. Anyways, soon after, the worker put on mitt gloves and started rubbing my entire body thoroughly to take off all the dirt. Of course, for obvious reason the genital area is avoided. This mitt rubbing experience was very rough yet strangely very soothing as I felt all the dirt deep within my pores leaving my body. After this, I was taken to another area and told to lie on my front and back. This was my favourite part. My arms and legs were taken and tied in certain angles so to crack my bones. This not only helped crack uncracked bones but also helped with relieving levels of stress and tension that existed within the body. The worker then applied a foamy soap over my entire body and massaged it thoroughly, stressing on certain points where muscles can be pulled. It was rough but again very relaxing and soothing. I was then taken back to the cubicle and given a thorough rinse before being taken back into a lounge area to dry off. Sitting around other locals who had just done the same, I sipped on Turkish tea attempting to fit in. I could relax here to dry off for as long as I needed before returning to my private room to get changed. It was around Maghreb time and the locals and workers did not hesitate to prepare for this.
I sat here and observed the locals walk by and relax whilst the workers prepared towels for the next customers. I was completely relaxed, warm, refreshed and tired after the entire experience. It’s a type of bath that you will not experience anywhere else.
The Hammam that I went to was generally a clean, tidy and organised place with the workers going out of their way to help with smiles on their faces. The only downside is that many of them do not understand or speak English – except for a few random words – and therefore language may be a cause for misunderstandings. However, as there is a process to be followed when inside, there is no real reason to have any issues.
This photo of Kadirga Hamam is courtesy of TripAdvisor
With plenty of rooms available for each person, a separate area for women, polite workers who go out of their way and very good prices for the entire package, this is a must visit for when you’re next in Istanbul.
There are many other Hammams in Istanbul and throughout Turkey. However, after reading reviews online for this place, I chose to go for it because of the atmosphere and price.
Entry into the Hammam only, without getting washed and massaged will cost 50 TL.
The entire package which includes entry into the Hammam area, massage, wash, body rub with mitt gloves and a rinse will cost you 80 TL.
Kadirga Hamami Kadirga Limani Cd Istanbul Turkey
Image Credit: https://vimeo.com/126481148