​The ritual and the use of Turkish baths in the Limassol districts

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Maintaining a long tradition of the East culture, hammam, or Turkish baths, appeared in Limassol during the Ottoman domination. The hammam was not only used as a place of purification and cleanliness, but it was a place of meetings and social gatherings. Thus, by bringing this important element to their heritage, the Ottoman conquerors established the custom of the baths in the city, creating several hammam in the neighborhoods.

The ritual of the baths was important and it was always accompanied by respect and holiness. The guests, upon entering the baths, were taking off their clothes in the reception area, which in Turkish was called “soyunmalık”. Then, they used to choose the room where they wanted to take their bath. The rooms, always turbid, but at the same time with big openings so the natural light could enter inside, were divided into 3 types. So, there was the cold, the mid-warm and the hot room, depending on the temperature prevailing in the area.

The hammam ritual required the use of a special set, including small and large towels, hard gloves for massage, wooden slippers, metal cups, a soap dispenser, a comb and a fabric, usually nicely decorated, in which the equipment of the bats was wrapped. Inside the rooms, the process was starting with massage and hard rubbing, while the guests were seated, using the troughs with water to rinse, in the rooms they were available.

The baths were of great importance to the Turkish Cypriots, since they were a great source of income, and apart from their usual function, they were used for special celebrations. During the Ottoman domination, there were 11 baths in Limassol, in the Turkish Cypriot districts. So, very quickly, the Greek Cypriots came into contact with a special cultural element of the East, which until then was unknown to them.

Source of information: "Echoes from the past" (2008)
Photos: Pattichion Municipal Museum - Historical Archive - Limassol Study Center, Titos Kolotas — Limassol in History

* NOTE: The tributes of the Project "History of Limassol" present information that has emerged from historical research thus far. Any new data is embedded into the tributes, once it has been confirmed.

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