Sokullu Turkish Bath – Edirne
/ By Josh
Never been to a Turkish Bath? Have no idea what it’s all about? Make sure to check out the History of Turkish Bath or our guide explaining just what goes on at a Turkish Bath before visiting!
Name of Hamam: Sokullu Turkish Bath
Date Built: 1569
Traditional style: Yes
Date of Visit: Dec 4 2017
Location: Edirne, Hükümet Caddesi right across from Üç Şerefeli Mosque
Price (in Lira): 22/13/10 (hamam entry/scrub/massage)
Tip Expected: Yes
Drinks: Yes Free: No
There is a section for both Men and Women.
Reviewed for: Men
Final Score: 34.5/50
Sokullu Hamam is incredibly old, incredibly grand, and very much one of a kind. The fact that it can’t get into the organization of Turkish Baths (we don’t know exactly what that is or why they can’t) means that it’s access to funds is low and so all this grand beauty is, sadly, languishing. In some ways this is a good thing though. Often well-intentioned people “restore” historic baths without any mind for the history or esthetics and totally ruin them.
This is not the case here. I wouldn’t be surprised if the marble basins are original. Where you rest your arm on the edge was worn down over an inch! How many times does someone need to rest their arm in one spot to cause that much wear on stone?
I will not say ‘don’t go to this Turkish Bath’ but I will say that if you are at all squeamish or a bit of a germaphobe then this one isn’t for you. In its current state Sokullu Turkish Bath is more of an adventure in history and culture than it is a spa experience (though the scrub and massage were exceptionally good).
We really hope that some day soon this great place and the people that work here will find the funds to do a tasteful restoration and cleaning so that this once magnificent hamam can live up to its real potential.
Length of stay: 5
Note: We were given all the time we could have wanted and were in no way rushed.
Change room: 3
Note: change rooms were normal in the sense that they were a bit small, the glass wasn’t fogged and there were locks on the doors; beyond that they were actually pretty unique as you will see below.
Common room: 3.5
Note: It was really hard to decide how many points to award for this. I’ve never been to a hamam that even comes close to this. For one, the common room, and the change rooms that surround it, were under an absolutely massive dome. The room was dim, barely lit at all, and had a large firplece in the middle which was definately a plus. It honestly looked like nothing had been updated in over a hundred years which made it look awesome but definitely not in a normal ‘spa’ sort of way. The change rooms that were in use were on the second floor on a rickety wooden balcony that surrounded the common room.
Hamam Features: 2.5
Note: While the hamam had a hot marble slab, and the four side wings of different tempurature, these were not in full working order, or at least they take too long to heat up to be used unless more people visit regularly. There’s no sauna or steamroom either, neither of which are actually traditional, though they are nice.
Hamam esthetics: 3.5
Note: This is a hard one. The architecture is magnificent. It was designed by Mimar Sinan, the Ottoman Empire’s most celebrated architect and you can see that, in its reletive simplicity, it is quite beautiful with wonderful attention to the subtle details. However, lack of maintenance has knocked some points off what could otherwise be a 5/5.
Note: This is where Sokullu Hamam suffers the most. While lack of maintenance is totally understandable given the financial constraints, the place could really use a regular cleaning. While there was a mildew issue, the most unappealing sight was the old razer blades in the marble niches that had become one with the masonry through the buildup of minerals and rust melding. That implies that these shelves had not been cleaned in a VERY long time.
While this isn’t totally a cleanliness issue, standing water has led to mini Pamukkale-esque travertines in a few spots. While this may not actually be dirty, it does make it appear dirty.
Note: Heat is often a struggle for any hamam that is low in customers as maintaining that temperature is expensive and impossible if they don’t come regularly enough. Combine that with the fact that this is a massive space, far larger than average, and it becomes untenable (especially in December when we were there). So unfortunately it was initially a little cool and took a while to warm up. One of the small side rooms heated up quickest so we spent much of our time in there though by the end the temperatures were decent.
Note: While the common room smell was fine the toilet and bath section were quite musty as can be expected from a rather poorly maintained building of nearly 500 years.
Quality of Scrub/Massage: 5
Note: By far the best scrub and massage we’ve ever had. I wish I could give this more than 5/5. There was no show to it, but it was the longest and by far the most thorough of all the ones we’ve had.
Note: The staff here were very friendly and accommodating. After chatting with them a bit we found out that one the guys at least has relatives working at Şifa Turkish Bath in Üsküdar.
Never been to a Turkish Bath? Check out the History of Turkish Baths or our article explaining just what goes on at a Turkish Bath here!
Subscribe to The Art of Wayfaring
Have any tips or info to add? Spot any mistakes? We’d love to hear about it.