Omeriye Hamam – A Turkish Bath in Nicosia
In Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, I happened to visit the Turkish bath of Omeriye Hamam. This 14th century Hamam (or communal bathhouse) is located in Nicosia’s Old Town, and in my view, is a much more relaxing experience than modern day spas! Hamam baths are well known to help bring the body to a state of equilibrium, without tensions and worries.
This elaborate stone bath has an interesting history. It was built by Lala Mustafa Pasha as a gift to the city of Nicosia, during the Ottoman takeover of Nicosia in 1570. Legend has it that it was named after the prophet Omar. The limestone with which the bath has been built is native to Nicosia.
The baths were important places of social contact in the medieval days. The Omeriye Hamam was restored in the year 2002, and is now every bit as good as what it would have been in the 14th century. It is now regarded as an important part of Cyprus’s heritage.
The visit to the Omeriye Hamam would rank as one of the best things that I did on my trip to Cyprus, as I had not expected that a Turkish bath would be so relaxing and rejuvenating. The Hamam consists of a chamber to undress (called sadrvan), a warm room (called kapaluk) and a hot chamber.
The warm room essentially prepares you for the hot chamber. The hot chamber (called mejan) is the most important room. It consists of hot and cold running water, and a stone bench which is used for a massage. The floor is also heated and the temperature of the room is set at around 38 degrees Celsius.
You can get a variety of massages here using essential oils and mud therapy, among others. After the massage or standalone bath is completed in the warm chamber, the process is reversed to reach the cool chamber which was earlier used to undress. The whole experience takes about two hours, and is wonderful to say the least.
The cost of using the Hamam increases if you include different massages and other treatments. I do have one tip for anyone who wishes to visit the Omeriye Hamam. My tip is that the Hamam is open for men on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, for women on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and for couples on Mondays. So do visit the Omeriye Hamam, but make sure that you go on the right day!