Tahtakale Hamam

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Tahtakale Hamam
Tahtakale Hamamı
Tahtakale hamam DSCF1601.jpg
The main entrance of the Tahtakale Hamam today
Alternative namesTahtakale Hamamı Çarşısı (Tahtakale Bath Bazaar)
General information
TypeHammam (Turkish bath)
Architectural styleOttoman
LocationIstanbul, Turkey
AddressUzun Çarşı Cd. 329/2, Sarıdemir, 34134 Fatih/İstanbul
Coordinates41°01′3.7″N 28°58′4.8″E / 41.017694°N 28.968000°E / 41.017694; 28.968000Coordinates: 41°01′3.7″N 28°58′4.8″E / 41.017694°N 28.968000°E / 41.017694; 28.968000
Completedbetween 1454 and 1471

The Tahtakale Hamam (English: Tahtakale Baths) is a historic Ottoman hammam (public bathhouse; Turkish: hamam) building in Istanbul, Turkey. It is next to the Rüstem Pasha Mosque in the Tahtakale neighbourhood, between the Grand Bazaar and Eminönü. Built during the reign of Mehmet II, it is one of the oldest surviving bathhouse structures in the city. After being used as a storage depot in the 20th century, which caused significant deterioration of its structure, it was considerably restored after 1988 and now serves as a local shopping centre.


The two main domes of the hamam on the city's skyline (as seen from the Golden Horn side)

The hammam is mentioned in the waqf document of the Fatih Mosque in 1470–1471 (875 AH), indicating that it was built between 1454 (the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople) and 1471.[1] Turkish scholar Doğan Kuban argues that the hammam was likely built at the same time as the Eski Saray (Old Palace) which Mehmet II built near this area right after the conquest, thus dating the hammam to right after 1454 and making it the oldest surviving hammam structure in the city.[1] The only other documented hammams in the city which date from the time of Mehmet II are the Mahmut Pasha Hamam (part of the Mahmut Pasha Mosque's complex) built in 1466[1][2] and the Gedik Ahmet Pasha Hamam built around 1475.[3]

It continued to serve as a bathhouse until possibly the early 1900s.[4] It survived, but may have been damaged by, the 1894 earthquake as well as a major fire in the area in 1911.[5] Afterwards the building was used as a deep freeze storage and cheese depot, which contributed to the deterioration of its historic fabric.[4][6] A large section of the building's interior was destroyed and replaced with a modern structure of concrete floors, leaving only a part of the former men's baths and the cold room of the former women's baths still standing.[1][4]

Eventually, the owner of the building decided to restore it and find another use for it. In 1988 (or 1989[6]) a major restoration project began, lasting until 1992.[4] The modern concrete structures were demolished and the original floor plan of the baths was re-established.[4] It was decided to convert the building into a commercial centre in order to maintain its economic viability in the future.[6] Since much of the building's original appearance could not be reconstructed without significant speculation, it was decided to use different restoration methods and principles for different parts of the building.[4] Existing elements were preserved while some details which had vanished were left unreconstructed, and new practical elements were added for the building's adaptation to a commercial centre with multiple shops. The former changing room of the men's baths, under the building's largest dome, was turned into the main entrance and outfitted with new galleries and a new central fountain as homage to the original building's form. Likewise, a new monumental entrance portal, in a simplified Ottoman style, was built in place of the original one which had previously disappeared without any available visual documentation for its reconstruction.[4] The building still serves as a local shopping centre today (known as the Tahtakale Hamamı Çarşısı), within the larger commercial district stretching north from the Grand Bazaar area.[3]


The large domed chamber at the main entrance of the building today, formerly the men's changing room in the hammam. The galleries and fountain date from the modern restoration but reflect the overall original layout of the building.

The building was a large double hammam: it had a section for men and a section for women, each with their own sequence of changing room and steam rooms.[3][4][1] The women's section, on the south side, was slightly smaller and narrower in plan than the men's section.[1] It originally had its own entrance alongside the men's entrance on the main street (to the east), but this entrance has not been preserved. The entrance of the men's section serves as the building's main entrance today, featuring a reconstructed portal with a tall monumental aspect and some muqarnas decoration.[4][1] Another small entrance on the building's south side was added during its modern conversion to a shopping centre.[4] The rest of the building's floor plan has been preserved or reconstructed from the original, with each section having a large changing room or cold room (equivalent to the apodyterium and frigidarium of Roman baths), followed by a warm room and then a hot room, with a service area for the furnaces at the back of the bathhouse now serving as a corridor linking both sections.[4] The hot rooms have fairly elaborate layouts with multiple domed areas. The hot room of the men's section has a large central dome flanked by four other smaller rooms on either side (almost all covered by domes too), plus four halvets (private areas for special guests), giving this hamam one of the most advanced designs of its time.[1]

The square-plan changing room of the men's section (now the main entrance of the building) has the largest dome of the building, nearly 17 meters in diameter.[1][3] The corners of the dome have muqarnas squinches, similar to the domes of hammams in Edirne and Bursa around the same period.[1] While the original building probably included more decoration, much of this has not survived and could not be reconstituted during its 1988 restoration.[4] The building's exterior is marked by a distinctive silhouette of domes with many pierced skylights and lanterns, visible from the surrounding roofs.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kuban, Doğan (2010). Ottoman Architecture. Antique Collectors' Club. pp. 190, 227–228.
  2. ^ Goodwin, Godfrey (1971). A History of Ottoman Architecture. New York: Thames & Hudson. p. 113. ISBN 0500274290.
  3. ^ a b c d Sumner-Boyd, Hilary; Freely, John (2010). Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City (Revised ed.). Tauris Parke Paperbacks.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Büyükdigan, Ilter (2003). "A critical look at the new functions of Ottoman baths". Building and Environment. 38: 617–633. doi:10.1016/S0360-1323(02)00184-1.
  5. ^ "Historic Hamams (Turkish Baths) in Istanbul | Frommer's". www.frommers.com. Retrieved 2020-10-12.
  6. ^ a b c "Tahtakale Baths Conversion". Archnet. Retrieved 2020-10-12.