In the serie let’s go visit a city with my daughter, I’d like to suggest Istanbul. You might already know that I am a huge fan of this city (read beautiful Istanbul and several other posts part of a BozAround city guide). I was just there again recently and experienced something very special. I spent 2 hours at the newly renovated Hamam Ayasofya. It was indulgence at its best.
Not only was it very therapeutic (it always is. Body scrubbing, foam all over, hot and cold, steam and dry. An old lady holding your hand to lead you from room to room like a baby) but for me it was also quite nostalgic. It transported me back in time when I was about 7 or 8 years old and my ants in Algeria took me to a hamam for the first time. What a shock. What a revelation. All these undressed women, young and old, boobs falling til their bellies, getting a weekly scrubbing and chatting and gossiping. It was one of those life moment that you remember for ever.
So when I went to Ayasofya Hamami a couple weeks ago in Istanbul, I couldn’t help wishing that my daughter Amalya would be older (7/8 would be the minimum to enjoy, I think) so I could share the experience with her. Ladies Only. We’ll surely do it in due time.
If you’re in Istanbul with your daughter / niece / a younger step-sister, do take her for a hamam experience! Ayasofya Hamam has just been entirely renovated. It used to be the hamam of the sultans, then fell into abandonment and was used as a tyre warehouse, but with the economic boom in Turkey, it’s now back to its grand days. It’s a nice break from visiting all the monuments around .
– Go first thing in the morning when the hamam opens to avoid the crowds. I was literally alone in the entire hamam (hence I could take those photos), making it so much more special. Better to book in advance too.
– Not to be entirely sexist, there’s a men quarter around the corner at Ayasofya Hamam. Or in general, hamams function on alternate days for men and women.
– You’ll find many hamams in Istanbul, old and new. Stick to the original ones, which are typically located in the old hood of Sultanahmet (nearby all the beautiful monuments that you will no doubt want to visit: the Blue Mosque, the Bazar, Ayasofya mosque, Topkapi palace, the byzantine cistern..). This is another one, tried and tested, beautiful two albeit not as grand as Ayasofya Hamam.
When you’re finished, skin soft and smelling like a princess, head for a pomegranate juice on the main square and enjoy the purity of the moment. smile.