Hamams were an integral part of Turkish Ottoman culture for centuries. Like hot/steam baths in other parts of the world the hamam can trace its roots back to the ancient Greeks and the Romans. But the Ottomans can perhaps be praised for their wholehearted adoption of the bathhouse as a place for luxurious feasting, fun and frolics (as well as for getting clean of course).
In Ottoman times every district of every town or city worth the name, had a public hamam for the residents to use. Better off people had small hamams in their homes for their private use. A few of the public hamams were spacious enough to have separate areas for men and women but most solved the problem of segregation of the sexes by declaring some days to be ‘Women Only’. In a society where modesty and religious observance were the corner stones of daily life, the hamams were perhaps the only place where people, especially women, could literally and figuratively let their hair down.
The religious importance of the hamam has its roots in the frequent exhortations in the Koran to keep high standards of personal hygene. However, the contrast between the straight laced outside world and the laid back steamy atmosphere of the hamam made them the place to meet your friends, catch up on the gossip, make business deals, find a new daughter in law and be entertained by musicians and dancers. Even rich women with their own private hamams would visit the local public hamam every now and again to enjoy the social life. Some men, apparently, worried about their wives losing their virtue in the public hamam – but if there wasn’t enough money to provide a private one and if he wished her to observe her religion - then he couldn’t keep her away.
For the Ottomans, and for later Turks, getting ready to go for a day trip to the hamam meant finding, preparing and packing up towels, brushes, henna, kohl, special soap and, mother of pearl inlaid pattens. Then there was lots of food and drink, If there were servants in the household they would be taken along and some people even took their pets! After their bath and massage the ladies would tidy their eyebrows, dye their hair, hands and feet with henna and remove unwanted hair with either wax, sugar or a thread of cotton.
There is a beautiful new hamam in Göreme with separate sections for men and women and same sex masseurs. The normal price is 50 TL (all services included) but we have some special tickets with a 5 TL discount at Reception. The hamam is only a short walk away but we can usually give you a lift if you like. In the high season, especially for evening sessions, it is essential to make a reservation. We will be glad to make a reservation for you if you wish.