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Galatasaray Hamamı

Today one of Istanbul’s finest 18th-century Ottoman hammams. Recommended for men, but the women’s baths are less interesting.

Cornucopia 41

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The hammam’s history goes back to 1498, when Beyazıd II built a preparatory school for bright Balkan children destined for the ultimate hothouse of Ottoman education, the Topkapı Palace school. Both the palace school and the baths serving them were later abandoned, but a new hammam – the present one– was bult on the foundations of the old in 1715, when Ahmet III revived the school in what was still virtually countryside.

The association of the school with the baths continued when the school reopened its doors as the Galatasaray Lycée in the mid-19th century and became Turkey’s school for diplomats. It was still a regular haunt of Turkish diplomats well into the 1960’s. In 1965 the hammam was overhauled at great expense, and women’s baths were added.

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Issue 59, June 2019 Behind Closed Doors
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