Tips & Guides
A Guide to Best Historic Baths and Fountains to Visit in Istanbul
While most tourists come to Istanbul to visit its grand historical palaces and many important museums, there is much more to be discovered in this city. Some of the most overlooked attractions are the historic baths and fountains in Istanbul. You can find many of these scattered all around the city, and each and every one of them has a history behind them.
- Cagaloglu Hammam: This Turkish bath is the biggest double bath in Istanbul, which means it has sections for both men and women, though they are separate. It is definitely one of the treasures of Ottoman Empire. It has a Baroque style architecture its cold and hot sections are different from other Turkish baths. Its history dates back to more than 300 years and is among the “1000 Places to See Before You Die” list of New York Times, so if you want to both see this magnificent place and try out a Turkish hammam experience, Cagaloğlu Hammam is a great place to start.
- Suleymaniye Hammam: The Suleymaniye Hammam is a part of the famous Suleymaniye Mosque. Built-in the year of 1557 together with the mosque by the famous architect Mimar Sinan, this Turkish bath consists of domes and chimneys lined up one after another. In addition to the sections that men and women can use every day, you can also find the private lodge section where Kanuni Sultan Süleyman used to wash in. If you are planning to visit this historical hammam in Istanbul, be sure to make a reservation before you go. Because of its historical location, it is a good idea to visit this place during your Old City tour in Istanbul.
- Cinili (Tiled) Hammam: Located in the Uskudar district, the historical Tiled Hammam was built in 1640 by Kosem Sultan, who was one of the most powerful women in the history of Ottoman Empire. Unfortunately, the original special tiles that gave the bath its name are all stolen, but you can still see similar tiles inside since the place was restored. Because of the bath’s sheer beauty, it was used in many different art projects.
- Galatasaray Hammam: Built by the son of Mehmet the Conqueror, Bayezid II, this Turkish bath in Istanbul has a mysterious story. While walking around the area where the hammam is located today, Sultan Bayezid II saw the flat of Gul Baba, who was a respected person of the time. After that, Sultan Bayezid II met him and asked whether if he wanted something or not. Allegedly, Gul Baba wanted Bayezid II to build a big school and a domed hammam which will stand tall for centuries in that area. If this is true, we can safely say Gul Baba’s wish came true since both Galatasaray Hammam and Galatasaray High School still lives on today, and this Turkish bath is one of the oldest and most popular hammams in the city.
- Gedikpasha Hammam: One of the oldest and most important Turkish baths in Istanbul, Gedikpasha Hammam is still functional to this day. Built by the famous architect Hayrettin in the year 1475, it is one of the few double hammams in the country. It is also the only historical bath that has a pool next to the central massage platform.
- Beylerbeyi Hammam: This Turkish bath was built in 1778 for the workers of Beylerbeyi Mosque. Designed by one of the best architects of the era, Mehmet Tahir Aga, this hammam is one of the few Turkish baths that survived until today without going under any major restorations. It has two domes, and even though it has only one section, it is available for men and women on different days of the week.
- Kilic Ali Pasha Hammam: The historical Kilic Ali Pasha Hammam takes its name from Kilic Ali Pasha, one of the most famous soldiers of the Ottoman navy. This bathhouse is one of the symbols of the Tophane neighborhood and was designed by Mimar Sinan. Built between the years 1578 – 1583 to serve the marine forces of the Ottoman navy, this amazing bath was abandoned for many years, but it was finally restored in 2012. Its grand dome which has holes that let the sunlight in and magnificent interior design are what make this bath special.
- Cemberlitas Hammam: Cemberlitas Bath is one of the most famous hammams in Istanbul, located near the famous Grand Bazaar. To Sinan the Architect in 1584 III. It was built by Sultan Selim III’s wife Nur Banu Sultan, and has two separate sections for men and women. Evliya Celebi, who was a famous Ottoman traveler and writer, calls this Turkish bath Murat III Bath in his travelogue Murat III Hammam. It is possible to find Ottoman inscriptions on some of the navel stones in the bath.
- Hurrem Sultan Hammam: This bath was built by the popular Hurrem Sultan, who was the wife of Suleiman the Magnificent. Mimar Sinan designed this Turkish bath. It was initially built as a charity, but was used as a warehouse short after. Its reopening as a hammam was in 2011. Both in terms of its interior and service quality, it is one of the best Turkish baths in Istanbul.
- Sultan Ahmet III Fountain: This fountain was built in the year 1728, and is located at the entrance of Topkapi Palace and is among the important historical monuments of the region with its fascinating baroque and Ottoman rococo style. It was used as a gathering place. The fountain has five small domes and there are large calligraphic plates above each of the taps.
- German Fountain: Also known as Kaiser Wilhelm II Fountain, this historical fountain in Istanbul was built in 1898 in the memory of the second anniversary of German Emperor Wilhelm II’s visit to Istanbul. It was first built in Germany but was transported and reassembled in Istanbul in 1900. Though it is small, its neo-Byzantine style, its amazing decorations on its exterior, the marble columns, and the dome's golden mosaics on its interior are a must-see.
- Tophane Fountain: Built by the Sultan Mahmud I in 1732, this fountain has a central location in the Tophane neighborhood of the Beyoglu district. Originally built in the Ottoman rococo architectural style, this historic fountain 2 major restorations, one in 1837 and one in 1956. In the first restoration, the flat roof we see today was added. In 2006, Saka Su, one of the biggest water companies in Turkey, supplied Tophane Fountain with water again.
- Sultan Ahmet III Fountain (Uskudar): There is another Sultan Ahmet III Fountain with the same name in Uskudar. It is located right in front of the ferry pier and is also built in 1728. There are various poems written all over the fountain, some of which are dedicated to Sultan Ahmet III. It was first constructed right next to the dock, but it was restored and relocated in 1933. It was restored again in 1955. Like other fountains built in the same time, it was designed in the rococo architectural style of the Ottoman Tulip Period.