Zeyrek Çinili Hamam reopens in Istanbul after 13-year restoration

The Ottoman bath in Istanbul offers a traditional hammam experience


By Wendy Golledge

14 May 2024

A 16th-century Ottoman bath in Istanbul has reopened to the public following a 13-year restoration project.

The Zeyrek Çinili Hamam is one of Istanbul’s landmark heritage sites. Built between 1530 and 1540 it offered unique Middle Eastern bathing rituals.

The opulent interiors, which date back almost 500 years, were originally designed by Mimar Sinan and commissioned by Hayreddin Barbarossa, the Grand Admiral of the Ottoman Navy. Sinan is renowned for creating Istanbul’s Suleymaniye Mosque.

The bathing experience now combines traditional Ottoman rituals with contemporary art and design, following restoration by the Marmara Group.

A traditional tiled turkish bath with pool in the middle
The interiors, which date back almost 500 years, were designed by Mimar Sinan at the height of the Ottoman Empire

The ancient communal hamman ritual

Zeyrek Çinili offers guest personalised therapies that reflect the ancient communal hamman ritual. These include marble therapy, traditional scrubs by hammam therapists (natır for women and tellak for men) and foam massage.

There are a variety of signature bathing experiences lasting from 25 to 100 minutes. The hammam custom dates back two millenia and is known for its cleansing, purification and healing benefits.

Zeyrek Çinili Hamam is a double bath, with one section originally designated for men and the other for women, each with a unique design. Restorers have uncovered fragments of intricate Iznik tiles and hidden Byzantine cisterns, dating back to the 5th century AD.

Access to the men’s and women’s sections will rotate, allowing everyone to appreciate these newly uncovered details.

woman laying on floor covered in soapy bubbles
Zeyrek Çinili Hamam x Hussein Chalayan collection | ©Barbaros Cangurgel

Modern rituals in a traditional setting

The Original will be a modern interpretation of the centuries-old hamman ritual. Beginning with warm marble therapy, guests relax on the central stone (known as göbektaşı), under a starry dome.

Hammam therapists then care for each guest individually, scrubbing the skin, before a foam massage and hair-washing ritual using local natural products.

Bathing experiences start at €60 for a self-guided session and €95 for the Original experience.

Woman with long dark hair smiling at the camera

"We are excited to welcome guests back to the Zeyrek Çinili Hamam. Our top priority is to maintain the baths' unifying element by transforming it into a gathering spot centred around tradition, arts and culture."

İkbal Ünüvar Ülgen

Director of hamam operations, Zeyrek Çinili Hamam

“Every moment is cherished, nothing is hurried – every single detail is considered at Zeyrek Çinili Hamam,” said İkbal Ünüvar Ülgen, director of hammam operations.

“From the century-old bridal bath ritual to the little bubbles for kids, every service is centred around personalisation. Each visitor will be given the best care possible whilst surrounded by the building’s fascinating history and artefacts.”

Zeyrek Çinili Hamam will also offers different combinations of personalised therapies with additional treatments including foot massages and face masks.

A bridal bath will be available for groups looking to honour the tradition of bathing as a bridal party in preparation for a wedding ceremony.

The Zeyrek Çinili Hamam exterior | ©Murat Germen

Zeyrek Çinili also has an accompanying museum, which showcases the building’s history and Ottoman bathing culture.

The restoration team have collaborated with creatives including bespoke clothing designer Hussein Chalayan and artist Theodore Psychoyos for site-specific furniture.

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