Medieval bathhouses (hammam) in Bukhara are special places, which are both historical monuments and establishments performing their direct functions.
Bathhouses of this kind are from 400 to 600 hundred years old, and the number of people they have washed and taken care of during all this time is just inconceivable. Some of the bathhouses, such as Hammam Sarrofon and Hammam Bozori-kord, continue to function today to please the local people and the city’s guests. The Bukhara bathhouses resemble somewhat the Turkish ones in their interior design. However, the former contain more rooms, while their steam baths differ in temperature and humidity.
The Bukharian bathhouses start working early in the day and continue until late in the evening; however, it is best to reserve a session in advance. A bathhouse employee would meet you at the entrance and tell you about the bathing traditions and process. As you undress in a spacious domed room, you go down to a round soaping hall with six niches and passages to a steam bath, warm room and recreation room.
Steam is generated in a large boiler and continuously delivered to the room through apertures situated 1.5 m from the floor of the steam bath. There is also steam running in pipes under the marble floor to heat it.
The trademark of Bukhara’s bathhouses is massage of a special kind. After steaming properly in the steam bath, you pass to a well-heated massage room and lie down on a special warm elevated platform, where you find yourselves in the power of a professional masseur. Using special oils made of local herbs and spices, the masseur operates with his palms, elbows, shoulders and legs. In order to massage your muscles deeply, he can even sit on your body and even stand on it. After the procedure you are offered to have a rest in a special room and a bowl of tea with herbs.
Visiting a hammam will surely be one of the most memorable events of your tour of Bukhara. You will find yourselves in the world of ancient traditions and feel ‘authentic’ Bukhara.