Istanbul weekend break
Of all the cities in the world, Istanbul is probably the one most likely to make you ask ‘Where do I start?’ From the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque, and from the Basilica Cistern to the bustling Grand Bazaar, the question should actually be ‘Where do I finish?’ That has an easy answer. You finish at a Hamam, or Turkish Bath.
But which one to choose? There are many throughout the city, some ultra modern, some with a dubious reputation, and some that have to be seen (and experienced) to be believed. One of the oldest is Cağaloğlu Haman on Yerebatan Street. Built in 1741, it has an unprepossessing exterior, but step inside and prepare to be astonished.
The female and male baths are – naturally – separate from each other, but the facilities are similar. As with all Hamams, a range of bathing options are available, from simply washing and relaxing to a full-on, hands-on experience, which includes an invigorating – if challenging – massage.
Whatever service you choose, you’ll be amazed by the incredible architecture of the place – the marble massage slabs, the beautiful fountains, the private vaults and the dome that dominates the hot section are particular highlights – but everywhere you look little details will delight and enchant.
The Hamam’s café will serve you a post-bath tea or freshly squeezed orange juice – the only way to compete the experience – and the perfect way to set yourself up for a visit to the Grand Bazaar, which is just around the corner.
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