In Iran, since the ancient times, the cult of purity of the body has been at a high level, primarily due to the religion. In Iranian society, the culture of public bathing in special steam baths, hammams, was widely adopted. Hammams very soon acquired social character: here people not only could cleanse the body and soul but also gathered to take a break from everyday cares and talk about politics and the latest news. Hammam also became an important communication and entertainment space, especially for Persian women. It was a kind of women’s club, where they could retire from men and strict family supervision.
Rich noblemen and merchants had their own baths at their palaces, and the luxurious furnishings of the hammam indicated the status and position of the owner in society. Today in Iran there are many historical public baths, which are an important cultural heritage of the country and are of interest to tourists from all over the world. In this article, we will review the most famous hammams in Iran, which should be included in the must-visit list.
Baths in Iran: Hammam-e-Ganjali Khan, Kerman
Hammam-e-Ganjali was built in 1631 in the city of Kerman. The bathhouse is located in the Safavid bazaar complex. Standing at the entrance to this underground bathhouse, visitors can admire frescoes and Persian miniatures. The interior of the hammam will not leave visitors indifferent: patterned domes, beautifully decorated with simple ornaments, pools with coins and goldfish, scenes with images of the heroic characters of the Kajar era and much more to admire. Today Hammam-e-Ganjali is a museum where ancient traditions of bathing are recreated and shown with the help of wax figures.
Baths in Iran: Hammam-e- Vakil, Kerman
The ancient city of Kerman, as we see, is rich in historical baths. While Hamam-e-Ganjali gives visitors some idea of the history of the baths, Hammam-e- Vakil, located in the same complex, allows visitors to literally relax and enjoy. Hammam-e- Vakil today is converted into a traditional teahouse. It is remarkable that the architecture of the hammam with its graceful arches and tiled walls has been preserved. Here visitors can take a break with hot tea and at the same time enjoy live traditional music while sitting or even lying down on the comfortable soft ottomans.
Baths in Iran: Hammam-e-Sultan Amir Ahmad, Kashan
Built during the reign of the Safavid dynasty in the 16th century, Sultan Amir Ahmad bathhouse consists of two main parts: a dressing room and a bathing room. Turquoise and gold tiles, traditionally painted ceilings, patterns, and murals decorate the interior. The hallmark of the hammam is the dome of gilded glass which not only used to provide light but was also the main distinctive feature of the bath. Today the bath acts as a tourist attraction, telling about the former luxurious life of the Persian sultans.
Baths in Iran: Hammam-e-Vakil, Shiraz
Bath Vakil in Shiraz was built in the middle of the 18th century by Kerim Khan especially for the residents of the city. Exquisite plasterworks, traditional turquoise and gold tiles, vaulted halls and twisted columns adorn the interior of Hammam-e-Vakil. One of the features of the bath is an ideal symmetry. The octagonal pool is a proof of that. To date, the bathhouse is an anthropological museum where the life of the inhabitants of Shiraz is represented with the help of wax figures and expositions.
Baths in Iran: Chahar Fasl Hammam, Arak
Chahar Fasl is the largest in Iran, with an area of 1600 sq. m., built during the reign of the Qajar dynasty. Translated from Persian, the name of the bath means “four seasons”. Each of the four corners of the bath is decorated based on a particular season of the year. The interior of the bathhouse is luxurious: decorations and frescoes, tiles of turquoise and gold, vaulted arches and domes. Hammam had separate rooms for men and women. Today, the bath acts as a museum and is the national cultural and historical heritage of Iran.
Baths in Iran: Ali Goli Agha Hammam, Isfahan
The historical hammam is located in the area of Bidabad, Isfahan. Hammam was built in 1713 by the court man of king Suleiman I, Ali Goli Agha. The architectural style of the bath is completely peculiar to Isfahan. The complex consists of two parts: a large and a small hammam so that they could be used simultaneously by men and women separately. Inside the bathhouse is richly decorated with paintings and ornaments in the traditional Persian style, and a snow-white marble floor harmonizes perfectly with turquoise-painted walls. Currently, the bathhouse is a museum and a popular tourist destination.