Ali Paşa Hamamı
I went to the Ali Paşa Hamamı, otherwise known as the ‘Yeni Hamam’ by the locals in Çorum in late February 2009. This is a 16th century building renovated recently. It is in the heart of the old and present town center, right by the clock tower and other historical buildings.
I must admit that I did not pay much attention to the exterior of the building –the façade is sort of hidden between shops selling nuts along with hamam utensils like soaps and kese and the like. On the interior, the main room had a special feature, which I had not seen in other hamams before. Around the göbektaşı there were four niches on the sides and four rooms at the corners, each room with a different temperature on the inside. These rooms did not have doors but were semi-private, separated from the main room with brick (presumably) walls with marble coating. Above the threshold of each room was a sign indicating the temperature level in them, but with names of the four seasons; yaz, bahar and so on.
I visited the hamam with one of my best friends, who is from Corum –but lived in Ankara most of her teenage and adult life- and lives there now, and her mother. Her Mother Emel is a regular hamam goer, but my friend prefers more of the spa type new hotel complexes when she feels like a long relaxing bath. Emel, though, is almost a profi –she was a regular to the neighborhood hamam when she was a kid and she is obviously still very much at ease with the excess of steam inside.
This hamam experience was my sixth or seventh time, so I knew more or less what to expect, but as the admin points out, every hamam has its own peculiar little traditions. For me, this one in Corum will be memorable with its length. The whole waiting-kese-massage procedure took more than 3,5 hours! The kese lady seriously took her time and told me that the “Corum ladies can’t get enough of kese” and she added, “if we keep it too short, they ask for more”. I think my 15 min kese experience at Cemberlitas the previous year did quite the same effect.
And at this hamam, I noticed women tend to interact with strangers more easily and often: After all Corum is a small city and it is certain that so and so’s father-in-law or some other relative used to hang out at the same coffee shop as your brother’s uncle. But they also like telling you their life stories and ask you personal stories. Here it was the first time I heard women talk about their unmarried sons –what movies always tell us what hamams are all about; about finding appropriate brides for sons, nephews and the like.
Overall the hamam was extremely clean. It was cheap. We paid 10 TL each for the whole thing. It was a cold Sunday –the perfect day in my opinion to spend in a hamam.