Cağaloğlu Hamamı is perhaps the most extraordinary of all Istanbul hammams. On a side street just off the Sultanahmet Square, a flight of stairs takes you down to a Baroque-style reception hall. The hammam was built in 1741 as a source of revenue for a big library founded by Sultan Mahmud I inside the Hagia Sophia. The library was part of an ambitious renovation project commissioned by the sultan to turn this grand Christian temple into an Islamic social complex -complete with a library, religious school and public soup kitchen.
At Cağaloğlu Hamamı, completely separate sections have been dedicated to men and women, where they are served by attendants of the same sex. Here, you are also offered spa-like aromatherapy massages following the classical hammam ritual. All guests are provided with a peshtemal (cotton loincloth), towels, single-use slippers, linden shampoo and pure olive oil soap. Cağaloğlu Hamamı also has a nice little corner, selling hammam equipment and ceramicware by notable local artists.
Note: Visitors who are in their first or last three months of pregnancy, who have heart diseases, diabetes, or asthma are not advised to use the bath. Children below the age of six are not allowed into the hammam.