In the very center of the city of Bergama you can find an old Turkish bath which is called Mevlana Haci Hekim Hamami. It was built during the first part of the 16th century within the limits of the charitable foundation Vakif. Previously, all the Turkish baths were a part of the Vakif, but now some of them are privately owned. That fact violates the very idea of it, as hamam should not belong to one person.
The Haci Hekim Turkish Bath, constructed in 1517 and restored just recently, has two separated parts: for men and for women. The building is covered with the roof in form of 24 domes. There are two big domes above the dressing sections; four middle ones, and the rest are small. The domes have lots of hexagonal star-shaped glass-covered holes. They allow the sunlight into the building. The door to the men’s part is a sharp pointed classical arch that faces the bazaar. The entrance to the women’s section is made from the side of the Kulaksiz Mosque.
The role of Hamam
Turkish baths were not designed to strike with the external beauty, but the interior was made very comfortable and looking gorgeous. Hamams had an important role in the life of Turkish people. First of all, the Turkish went there for hygienic reasons. That’s why the bath was divided into two parts – for men and for women. Small children were allowed to enter the hamam with their mothers. When the boys reached certain age, they could enter the Turkish bath only to the men’s part.
Local people used to go to hamam to celebrate some special occasions – like now we go to the club or restaurant. For example, the hostess could invite her family member and some friends to go to the Turkish bath to meet a special guest. A person could go to hamam when he or she had their wish or dream fulfilled. There was also a tradition to gather in this place on the 20th day after the relative’s death. On that day, all the family members and friends gathered inside.
Men and women organized a kind of stag- or hen- parties in hamams one day before the wedding day. Moreover, women had some special celebration occasions on the 40th day after delivering a child. Visits to hamam were also a “must do” on the eve of the big religious holidays in order to prepare for them.
Nowadays each of us has a place for hygienic procedures at home. At the same time, hamam services are left as a place for special services, like massage or spa salon. Anyway, it is considered to be luxurious and exquisite place. This historical authentic hamam in Bergama is still in use, so everyone can treat himself to its services.
It is easy to get to Mevlana Haci Hekim Turkish Bath, as it is situated right off the main road.