Cagaloglu Bath (Turkish Hamam)

The Cagaloglu hamam was constructed in 1741 and is the last hamam to be built after a long period during the Ottoman Empire.

It was constructed in Istanbul Eminonu, Alemdar, on Hilal-i Ahmer Street as a 9ifte public hamam to bring revenue for life library of Sultan Mahmut the first situated inside the mosque of Ayasofya. When we take a look at the names of the head architects of that time we can say that it was begun by Suleyman Aga Finished by Abdullah Aga .It is the last example of its kind to be built in Istanbul and is a successful hamam that is still operational in our time. The door of the women’s section is on a side street called Hamam while the mens’ entrance is from the main road with two marble columns with classic stalactite capitals on both sides.

In time when the street was elevated, the men’s section is reached by a staircase of 10 steps. The architecture of the door is contrary to eclectic Turkish style on the tablet above the door is a long inscription of 7 lines and 28 verves. The high and wide camegah is joined to the large dome by segmented corner trumpet-like vault panels. In the middle is a pool with a water jet of great artistic value. The windows are placed between the vault panels in threes. On the top of the dome is a lantern for illumination.

There is a sirvan in the camegah with rooms for undressing. The sogukluk is entered though a double door from the camegah and is covered with seven barrel vaults and a half sphere small dome; the domes are supported by arches and columns. There are eight arches ohn eight marble columns supporting the dome in the sicaklik. In the center is the marble gobektasi, surrounded by halvets in the four corners and three sofas in between. The sofas are covered with semi dones. There is a square garden between the undressing room of the women’s section and the camegah of the mens’ section. The beginning of the camegah and the sogukluk is different from classis plans. The sogukluk is also separated by two columns into three sections. In the middle is a dome. The sicaklik is the same as the mens’ section. The kulhan continues behind the wall of both sicakliks.

One of our folk poets Bitlisli Ali had an interesting experience in this hamam where he first worked as a kulhanci then as tellak. In his dream a 70 years old white bearded sheik is to go to a hamam and wash a tellak. At that time most of the hamamcis and kulhancis were Armanian. The hamam where Ali worked was owned by Haci Mustafa and the kulhanci was a Muslim. So the sheik chose to go to this hamam and after washing Bitlisli Ali, gave him a piece of gold. Ali kept the gold for good luck and never spent it in his life. According to a list made of the dates of company establishments, Cagaloglu Hamam built 1741 is the oldest Turkish firms still active today. Evliya Celebi states that in the second half of the 17th century there were 150 large and 150 small, totaling a number of 300 hamams were built for the use of the workers constructing other buildings of foundations. The revenue from these hamams was paid out as salary to the workers and for the preservation of the buildings.

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