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Descriptions of baths    EN


The word ‘Turkish hamam‘, famous to the European tourists for centuries, was synonymous of a traditional leisure time passing and a ritual, not only a way of satisfying the needs of cleanliness and hygiene. Heir of the Roman bath, it was a must for the Ottoman city life.

In Trabzon we know of İçkale Saray Hamamı, adjacent to the citadel walls, believed to be a remnant of the Komnenos era. Its walls rise at the level of the citadel walls, their upper part an Ottoman work. Though only some small parts of the bath survive today, it can be understood that the architectural style is different from the classical Ottoman bath. The traveler Mehmed Aşıkî, born in 1555/56 in Trabzon, writes in his book Menâzirü’l-Evâlim that it was called Kulle Hamamı, “kafirî binâ ve hammâm-ı yektâdır” (infidel-built and single-chamber bath). [1]

In Mehmed Aşıkî we also encounter Çifte Hamam in Ortahisar (in the inner citadel) as well as İmaret Hamamı, Aşağı Hisar Hamamı, İskender Paşa (Bazar) Hamamı, Gavur Hamamı, Tekfur Sarayı Hamamı outside the city walls; 7 baths altogether. [2]

Çifte Hamam, also adjacent to the city walls, with some parts only surviving, is mentioned in the Ottoman registers of the 1520’s. Also known as Gavur Hamamı (bath of the infidels) by the people, it is perhaps the second bath whose history goes back to the Komnenos era. Some experts and travelers (Ritter 1859, Surmelian 1945) [3] claim that it had been built as a church. Evliya Çelebi (1611-1682) also writes that this bath was of Christian origin (“Ve kâfirden kalmış hammâmdır derler”). [4] Mekhitarist monk P. Minas Bıjışkyan, born in Trabzon in 1777, also finds the bath remarkable, with its lower floor beneath the earth level. [5]

İmaret Hamamı was in the Hatuniye complex, built in the name of the sultan Yavuz Selim’s mother in 1514. Its remaining walls are used today as a timber store. İskender Paşa Hamamı bears the name of the Trabzon governor İskender Paşa, built by him in 1538. It was restored in 1889, 1938, 1981 and 2008 and is still used today but doesn’t maintain much of the original architectural characteristics. We know that Tekfur Sarayı Hamamı had been in the Erdoğdu district, but we know nothing about the Aşağı Hisar Hamamı or the second Gavur Hamamı, that Aşıkî writes about; the names ‘tekfur’ and ‘gavur’ again suggest pre-Ottoman times.

Oddly enough, we know today of three more baths as old as those, which both Mehmed Aşıkî and Evliya Çelebi should have mentioned: the Tophane Hamamı built in 1494, covered with cement in 1978 and used today as a storehouse; the Fatih Hamamı, which must have been built right after the conquest of Trabzon, altered significantly in time and still in use after the 2008 restoration, and Sekiz Direkli Hamam, believed to be built in the 11th century, according to some by the Selçuks. It is also claimed that the latter bath had been built in the 18th century and altered so much in time that it is hard to interpret its age by architectural means, apart from the fact that its floor plan is original. Restored by the Trabzon Municipality in 1989, it is still in use today.

We only know the Çömlekçi Hamamı and the Çukur Hamam by name. Alaca Hamam and Hacı Arif Hamamı were built in the 18th and in the first half of the 19th centuries respectively. In 1882, Askeri Hamam was built in the military [barracks] complex. At the end of the century, Meydan Hamamı was built by Kazazzade Hüseyin (1878-1938), mayor of Trabzon, and is stiil in use today.

In 1847, the Ottoman Armenian official Dr. Perunak Feruhan informs of some other baths in Trabzon. His list includes 15 baths, the three of them, Kahyaoğlu, Uzunoğlu, Yokuzoğlu, not mentioned before or after. [6]

In the second volume of the Trabzon Vilayet Salnamesi (1287/1870) the number of the baths is 12 [7], which doesn’t change in the eleventh volume (1296/1879). [8] In the thirteenth volume, the Askeri Hamam is described as a facility for the newly-established Military Hospital. [9] Thus, we arrive at the number of the baths present in the inventory of Trabzon today, which is 13. [10]

In Trabzon, having a bathroom was only seen in the kiosks of the truly upper classes until the 1930’s. Though there were small changing rooms called “gusulhane” for taking a bath for religious reasons and the children took their baths in tubs as well, the common way was to go to the public baths. In Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname we see that there were 245 private baths in the city. [11] Trabzon has always been rich in water sources and there were many monumental fountains (today there are 40 and 23 more known only by name), though water didn’t run in the houses until the Republican era, whereas water scarcity occured from time to time. Today there are bathroms in the houses but the public bath culture still goes on, though not as strong as it once was.

Inventory - Baths

1. Alaca Hamam

2. Askeri Hamam

3. Çifte Hamam

4. Çukur Hamam

5. Fatih Hamamı

6. Hacı Arif Hamamı

7. İçkale Saray Hamamı

8. İmaret Hamamı

9. İskender Paşa Hamamı

10. Meydan Hamamı

11. Sekiz Direkli Hamam

12. Tophane Hamamı


[1] Mehmed Aşıkî, V. III, p. 1023.

[2] Op. cit. p. 1026.

[3] C. Ritter, Die Erdkunde von Asien, V. XVIIII, Berlin, 1859, p. 883; L. Surmelian, I Ask You Ladies and Gentlemen, New York, 1945, p. 2 cited Bryer and Winfield p. 206.

[4] Evliya Çelebi, V. II, 252a.

[5] Bijişkyan, p. 47.

[6] In Bijişkyan, p. 47.

[7]Trabzon Vilayeti Salnamesi 1287 (1870), V. 2, 191.

[8]Trabzon Vilayeti Salnamesi 1296 (1879), V. 11, 122.

[9]Trabzon Vilayeti Salnamesi 1305 (1888), V. 13, 184-185; “İzan-ı cümle saye-i maâlî vaye-i Hazret-i padişahide şu son senelerde şehrin canib-i garbiyesinde kain Kavak Meydanı cihetinde askerî ve gurebaya mahsus ve dairesi dahilinde bir cami-i şerif ile bir bab hamamı müştemil mükemmel ve kargir bir hastahane ve altında bir askerî debboyu ile daha bir takım devair-i muntazama-i askeriye inşa edilmiş olduğu…”.

[10] Kansız, p. 117-132.

[11] “Bu zikr olunan yedi adet hâs u âm ham­mâmlardan mâ‘adâ şehr‑i Tarabefzûn içre iki yüz kırk beş sarây‑ı hammâm‑ı hâs var kim Sicil’de mestûrdur”; Evliya Çelebi, V. II, 252a.


Bıjışkyan, P. Minas; Karadeniz Kıyıları Tarih ve Coğrafyası 1817-1819, trans. Hrand D. Andreasyan, İ. Ü. Edebiyat Fakültesi, İstanbul, 1969.

Bryer, A. A. M. ve David Winfield; The Byzantine Monuments and Topography of The Pontos, Dumbarton Oaks Studies, Washington D.C., 1985.

[Eldem], Halil Edhem; Trabzon’da Osmanlı Kitabeleri, haz. İsmail Hacıfettahoğlu, Trabzon Belediyesi Kültür Y., Trabzon, 2001.

Evliya Çelebi b. Derviş Mehemmed Zılli; Evliya Çelebi Seyahatnamesi, Zekeriya Kurşun, Seyit Ali Kahraman, Yücel Dağlı, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, İstanbul, V. II, 1999.

Kansız, İsmail (ed.); Trabzon Kent İçi Kültür Varlıkları Envanteri, Trabzon Kültür ve Turizm Md. Y., Trabzon, 2010.

Karpuz, Haşim; Trabzon, Kültür Bakanlığı Y., Ankara, 1990.

Mehmed Aşıkî; Menâzırü’l-Evâlim, Mahmut Ak, Türk Tarih Kurumu, Ankara, 2007.

Trabzon Vilayeti; Trabzon Vilayet Salnameleri, 1286-1322 (1869-1904), V. 1-22, Kudret Emiroğlu, Trabzon İli ve İlçeleri Eğitim, Kültür ve Sosyal Yardımlaşma Vakfı, Ankara, 1993-2009.