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The Architectural Characteristics of
Great Domed Turkish Hammams

Hammam Dome with Elephant Eyes

For centuries Turkish hammams continues to exist as one of the major components of the Ottoman and Turkish culture. Historical Turkish hammams that surrounded by embroidered walls on all sides are architectural wonders.
Turkish Hammams are of great importance in terms of art and architecture. They have the same architectural features of the mosque. The architectural style of hammam has not changed for thousands of years. Some of the architectural features of Roman Baths also continued during the Ottoman period. The hot room of the hammam (sicaklik) was built on bricks in both periods. The burning fire in kulhan (the boiler room) -which is right next to hot room- is heats the hammam by passing through the channels called as cehennemlik (stokehole). The smoke is thrown out of smokestacks that have been placed into the walls which, made of baked earthenware.

There are three parts to the Turkish hammam;

  1. Changing rooms;

It consists of a large hall and the stone benches in the vicinity of the hall. People lie down on the benches to have a rest after bathing in the hammam.

  1. The hot room (sicaklik);

This section of the hammam consists of two parts including the cool room and the bath. Be entered to the hot room by passing the cool room. There are three separate sections in the hot room including the marble basin (common bathing place), halvet (partially enclosed bathing cubicle) and middle stone (heated marble platform to lie on for sweating)

  1. Boiler room (kulhan);

Kulhan -where the fire burn- is at the bottom of the bath. The flame and the smoke rising from the fire pass through the special channels which are inside the walls and then exits from the chimney.

Turkish Hammam interior
Hammam Dome Turkish Bath Dome Elephant Eye Hammam Interior Hammam Inside View
There are inscriptions in the hammams.
These inscriptions contain some information about the date of the construction of the hammam and the hammam had built by whom.
Ottoman Baths have a portico at the front side. This application was inspired from the Seljuk Baths.
The most beautiful examples of decorative stone masonry on the doors are possible to see (especially in the baroque period hammams). The Tiled Bath, The Cemberlitas Hammam, The Ortakoy Hammam, Kilic Ali Pasha Hammam, The Beyazit Hammam and The Suleymaniye Hammam -which have been restored in accordance with the original buildings-, are the most beautiful examples of the construction of large domed hammam.
Usually a small pool with fountain is located in the middle of the changing
rooms of Turkish baths.  The sunlight comes into the changing room from the brick-domed place that called as the roof lantern. The roof lantern in hexagonal or octagonal shape is placed at the top of the dome.  The middle stone (gobek tasi) is located in the middle of the hot room. It is in height 45-50 cm and covered with marble. Usually the middle stone is in octagonal or rectangular shape. The domes of bathing places are decorated with circular or star-shaped windows. These windows that called as elephant eye, allow the light to enter at any time of the day.
Nowadays, one of the halvet parts of hammam was closed and it was turned into the sauna. There is always a decorated marble basin that called as bride's marble basin in the women part of the Turkish bath.

What are the architectural differences between
the Ottoman Hammams and the Roman Baths?

In both open and closed areas of Roman Baths are larger than the Ottoman Hammams.
The hot and cold pools that placed into the Roman Baths do not exist in Ottoman Hammams.
One of the most obvious differences between the two-architectural visions is unlike the Roman Baths the outer walls of Ottoman Hammams are not fancy.
The double baths doors which are the structure of the Ottoman Hammam are opening  into the different streets. The purpose of this architectural application is to prevent women and men to see each other. Cause of this bathing habit with stagnant water of Roman culture and with flowing water of Turkish culture.  


Mimar Sinan was a famous Turkish architect and one of the greatest structural artists of the world.
He lived between 1489 and1588.
He has built important works in many parts of the empire- the capital city Istanbul being the foremost- during the reign of the  Ottoman Sultans, Sultan Suleiman(Suleiman the Magnificent) (1520-1566), Sultan Selim II (1566-1574) and Sultan Murad III (1574-1595). These works, symbolize the power of the empire. He has been the chief architect, at the most powerful time of Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Architecture has been moved to the summit by Mimar Sinan.
Sinan has given the most exclusive products of the cultural heritage of the Ottoman. This great genius who is the architect of the unique works was incredibly humble.

There was an expression as nebbish poor Sinan (el fakir-ul hakir Sinan) on his signet that used instead of signature in those days. He has reflected this humbleness to his works.

He has got 375 works including 92 mosques, 52 small mosques, 7 darulkurra (special rooms to read the Koran), 22 mausoleums, 17 soup kitchens (place which served free food to the poor and to others, such as madrasah students), 3 darussifa (infirmary), 5 culvert ark, 8 bridges, 20 caravanserais, 36 palaces, 8 cellars and 48 hammams. His masterpiece is Selimiye Mosque. He has built this mosque which, called as the work of master builder period by him, at the age of 86.
The most spectacular work of Sinan in Istanbul is the Suleymaniye Mosque.

Some other important works of Mimar Sinan; 
The Sehzadebasi Mosque, The Haseki Hurrem Mosque, The Mihrimah Sultan Mosque, The Rustem Pasha Mosque,
The Ibrahim Pasha Mosque, The Sinan Pasha Mosque, The Mimar Sinan Mosque, The Madrasa of Sultan Suleiman, The Suleymaniye Madrasa,  Madrasa of Haseki Sultan, The Mehmet Pasha Madrasa, The Darulkurra of Sultan Suleiman, The Sultan Suleiman Tomb, The Sultan Sueyman Darussifa, The Mustafa Pasha Bridge, The Mostar Bridge, The Suleymaniye Hammam, The Haseki Hurrem Hammam, The Valide Sultan Hammam  many more.
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