Monday, May 8, 2017


Zeyrek, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°01'05.2"N 28°57'22.8"E / 41.018111, 28.956333

The Çinili Hamam is the most eminent hamam located on Itfaiye Street in Istanbul's Fatih district. It was built by Mimar Sinan during the second quarter of the 16th century to generate revenue for the Hayrettin Paşa Madrasah and its tomb. The Hamam is also called “The Zeyrek Çinili Hamam” and “The Hayrettin Paşa Hamam.” It took its present name from the İznik tiles covering its walls which have not made it to the present day. After two large fires in 1782 and 1833, it was repaired and transfered to an individual owner.

The camekan of the double-bath styled Çinili Bath is not in contradiction with Classical Ottoman architecture; it is covered by a large dome. There is a pool with a fountain in the middle of the camekan, which is thought to have been a gift by the Shah of Iran. A court surrounded by small individual changing rooms and covered by a dome has been established in the middle of the hamam.

The changing rooms of the hamam are located upstairs and they passfrom the camekan into the ılıklık (lukewarm section) which is covered by an arched roof. Later, four keseliks, a type of bathing cabin used for exfoliating the skin, have been added to the ılıklık. From the ılıklık, one continues to the harare (hot section) through a passageway.

While walking through the passageway, a bathroom covered by five domes draws the attention of visitors.There are four halvets (a very hot bathing cubicle within the bath), three sofas (halls), and a marble plinth (göbek taşı). There are also two verses, each written in Persian, on the doors of halvet.

For Charles White, writing in the early 1840s, the “Tchinelly Hammam” was “one of the neatest and most picturesque in the city”. Zeyrek, close to the imperial Fatih Mosque and the Valencian Aqueduct, was a fashionable quarter with handsome wooden houses and views to the Golden Horn.

Today it is a rough-and-tumble area, whose houses are home to poor immigrants from the east, and the baths are shabby, if picturesque. Gone is the portico that shaded the entrances to the men’s and women’s baths. In its place butchers hang goats’ carcases. But, inside, Sinan’s domes and geometry still work their magic.

Sinan built the baths in the 1540s for Barbaros Hayrettin Pasha, known to the West as Barbarossa, a former corsair who became the first naval commander to be honoured by the Sultan with the title of Grand Admiral and Governor-General of the Islands. The navy was close to Sinan’s heart: in winter, while the Janissaries rested, it was the skilled galley slaves who did his building work - many earned their freedom when projects were completed.

In the “hot room”, a few of the tiles that gave the hammam its name can still be seen: panels of hexagonal Iznik tiles, their glaze encrusted with lime from dripping whitewash, and a row of tiles inscribed with lines of sensual Persian verse comparing the “beauties” therein to those of paradise.

The Çinili is a classic double hammam, for men and women. Leading back from the street is a sequence of domed halls, side by side: first the disrobing halls, then a wide, warm anteroom, and finally a hot room, marvellously austere but for the delicate pie-crust arches that support the dome and vaults.

Nearby there was a deep well, filled in long ago, from which the water for the hammam was drawn by horses. But behind the baths you will still find the chambers of the külhanbey, the legendary league of stokers.


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