Medieval Hammam Bathhouses
The medieval hammam bath complexes are a special Bukhara attraction. They were built in the 16th с and became an integral part of the cultural and architectural panorama of the city. Visiting bathhouses was the favorite leisure activity of people in all the cities in Central Asia and beyond.
The famous Central Asian historian Narshakhi who lived in the 10th с wrote in his book Narshakhi’s Notes that going to bathhouses was a custom. According to him, a few bath facilities functioned in Bukhara in his time already, Hammam Khan (‘khan’s bathhouse’) was the most popular of them. By the mid-19th с there were 16 bathhouses in Bukhara, and Tashkent and Samarkand had about 10 each.
Hammam bathhouses were usually built at bazaars. Khans had personal bathhouses in their palaces, and bath attendants kept them ready at any time throughout the year.
The medieval bathhouses in Asia differed as to location use and sex. There were city bathhouses at bazaars and neighborhood ones. Among Bukhara bazaar bathhouses were Hammam Gavkusho, Hammam Hajji Parso, Hammam Sarafon and, of course, the most popular and oldest Hammam Bozori Kord dating from the 17th c. Despite its age, it still functions, and anyone can visit it for washing.
There were separate men’s and women’s bath facilities. However, most bathhouses in Central Asia had only one washing chamber, so men and women could only visit them in turn on certain days. A typical bathhouse was a one-floor domed building with a lobby, a dressing room and a washing chamber inside.
Today there are two old surviving bathhouses in good condition in Bukhara. They are the men’s Hammam Bozori Kord, which is located near Toki Telpak Furushon dome, and the women’s Hammom Kunjak near the famous Kalyan Minaret. Visits to them will definitely make a long-lasting impression on you. You will enjoy Asian hospitality there, interesting historical and architectural discoveries and simply a good health and soul healing time. The great Central Asian polymath Ibn Sina (also known as Avicenna), who lived as long ago as 980 - 1037, already knew the beneficial effects of bathhouses on human health and wrote about them in his treatise The Canon of Medicine. The relaxed ambiance, good service, incense aromas, unique aura and, of course, washing and various types of massages in Bukhara bathhouses will certainly be remembered as sheer bliss.
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