500-year-old hamam bringing Istanbul’s past to life

ISTANBUL - Closed to the public for more than a decade, the stunning Zeyrek Çinili Hamam has just reopened its wooden doors to the world. Located in Istanbul’s Zeyrek neighborhood – on the Euro­pean side of the Bosporus, ad­jacent to the historic Fatih dis­trict – the bathhouse was built in the 1530s by Mimar Sinan, the architect-in-chief to illus­trious Ottoman sultans such as Suleiman the Magnificent. “Çinili” means “tiled” in Turk­ish, highlighting the hamam’s most prominent interior de­sign feature; the bathouse was once covered in thousands of bright blue Iznik tiles. Open for five centuries, serving the public mostly as a hamam but briefly as a saddlery and a storeroom in the late 1700s, the hamam was rather dilapidated by the time it closed in 2010.

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