Mihrimah Sultan Turkish Bath, History and Turkish Bath Culture

It is reported that Sultan Suleyman, the Kanuni, had constructed two large mosques and  education complexes, one in Uskudar and one in Edirnekapi, ­ naming them after his daughter, Mihrimah Sultan, born to Hurrem Sultan. The interesting thing related to those historical works is that, while the sun is rising behind one minaret of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Edirnekapi, the moon emerges between the two minarets of the mosque in Uskudar. Mihrimah is a Persian word, meaning “sun and moon”

The  historical Mihrimah Sultan  Mosque, located in Edirnekapi, as a part of the Mihrimah Sultan Mosque Education Complex, was, according to historical literature, built between 1562 and 1565 in the form of a double Turkish Bath, according to a design which was common in the classical period. The Mihrimah Sultan Turkish Bath  has a significant role in Turkish bath culture.

Turkish bath is  our traditional heritage. Through the mysterious historical background,  it is reported to have many  health benefits. Today, having undergone transformations, it has become  an essential part of our social and cultural lives. Turkish Bath for centuries, has  become a part of our lives, from the point of a healthy lifestyle.

Turkish Bath is known to  be curing colds and asthmas, preserving the youth and freshness of the skin.

It is a significant requirement for a Turkish Bath that it must be healthy, clean and at necessary temperature. Infrastructure is very important in a high quality Turkish Bath. Without sacrificing quality, you may just visit Mihrimah Sultan Bath in order to enjoy the   pleasure  coming through the mysterious depths of history.


In Turkish lifestyle, bathes are not just a place to wash up, but also a center for medical, social and cultural activities.

Use of water, one of the essential needs of living things, for medical purposes, caused construction of baths, spas or similar facilities. The Turkish Baths, being one of such structures, particularly satisfies bathing and cleansing requirements of the people. In addition to this,  the architectural construction of baths changed according to dominant religion and social life.

The word Turkish Bath (Hamam) means bath in Arabic (Hammam) and hot in Hebrew (Hamam). Hamam, could shortly be defined as “a place dedicated to washing up, cleaning and healing”

Use of baths for preventing or treating diseases dates back to very old times. In 4th Century B.C., baths were known to be a physical education and treatment center in Greece. Baths  received their primary architectural character in the Roman ages. In this period, the baths constructed on large lots, were  also the centers for sports or culture.

We can divide Anatolian Turkish Baths into two, namely, the ones working on  hot water, and the ones using artificial heating. The structures built on natural hot water resources, mostly used for medical  purposes, are named as spas.

Anatolian Turkish  baths  are very significant in Turkish social life not only for cleaning, but also entertainment, birth, marriage and many other social activities.  Today, within the baths mostly employed for cleaning, health and beauty, there are hot and cold pools, aromatic foam, mud,  moss, clay, honey and vegetable oil massages and body tonifying.


One  of the structures of Turkish civilian architecture, which is important but not sufficiently emphasized, is Turkish baths. They are very important with regard to Turkish cultural history. They imitate mosques with their domes and other design elements. The interior design and components of these facilities  may be very simple or complicated. Today, there are many  Turkish bath ruins dating back to either pre-Ottoman period and Ottoman period. The Ottomans, caring for the traditions of the Muslim states before them, started constructing public benefit facilities everywhere after they were  autonomous. The important parts of the internal design within the Turkish Baths, which have a special design, are generally dressing rooms, drying and towel changing room and bathing room.

Baths before Ottoman Period

According to historians and archeologists, buildings dedicated to washing were built in Mesopotamia, Babel, India and ancient Egypt. But, constructing of large volume buildings, establishing an auto-heating and constantly flowing hot water system coincides with the Roman period. Romans applied a heating system, similar to the one they used for their houses, in the baths, yielding the so-called “Roman Bath”.  Later, it is known as “Turkish Bath” since it was improved under the influence of Ottoman Culture and architecture, but, Roma has a considerable share with regard to foundations of the Turkish Bath.

Bath Architecture in the Roman Period

Monumental bath buildings were constructed in Roma in 1st century B.C. In 33 B.C., it is  reported that there was 170 public bathes. Bath buildings in the Roman period were large complexes containing statues, swimming pools, large gardens and libraries, where sports competitions were organized, and poems  and songs were pronounced in the feasts. Diclaotianus, a bath of which ruins are still visible, is known to be the largest bath constructed ever in the world. It covers 11 ha, approximately 14 times a football stadium.  You can also encounter Roman bath ruins in cities such as Side, Ephesus as well as other ancient sites in Turkey.

Historical Development of Baths from the times of Roman Empire to Ottoman Empire

On the entire geography, where Roman civilization was spread, you can see the influences of the Roman Bath in Spain, Britain, Northern Africa countries and Anatolia. The bathing culture survives in different civilizations after collapse of the empire. Until the end of 15th century, you can encounter monumental bath buildings in Andalusia. Later, this culture is preserved by Emevians, Abbasids, Seljukians and Ottoman Empire.

The influences of bath on the Ottoman Culture

Turkish Bath has a prominent place in the Ottoman culture, in literature, language or daily life. Women and men go to Turkish baths for  washing up.  They are important for socialization of women. There are such traditions as going to bath on Thursday evenings, keeping bathes open all night long the day before feasts –this is preserved also today-

There is a bath culture dating back to very old times in Anatolia. But, this culture has become permanent after the emergence of Turkish Bathes. Even if Turkish bathes are not considered hygienic and washtubs and Jacuzzis at home are preferred, this is the case only in large cities. This tradition however is preserved for centuries in Anatolia. Turks transferred their existing bath traditions to Anatolia, where they migrated after Central Asia. They adapted their own traditions on the marble bath culture, left by the ones lived before them. By the time, bathes became the places where special days were celebrated. Even in today, there are “bride bath”, “childbirth bath” “offer bath”, “baby’s 40th day bath”, “mourning bath” for women, while there are “groom bath”, “circumcision bath”, “military service bath” and “feast bath” for men. Wherever you go in Anatolia,  including large cities, this is a ceremony.