Back to Previous Page

Hammâms, Damascus, Syria (12th-18th Century)

Artist/Designer: North African, Islamic

Project Location: Damascus, Syria

Figure 1: A location map of the surviving historic hammâms in Damascus, as surveyed by the author concentration in the walled city. ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Magda Sibley )
Figure 2: The declining number of historic public baths ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Magda Sibley )
Figure 3: Diagrammatic representation of the evolution of the hammâm's layout between 12th and 18th Century ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Magda Sibley )
Figure 4: Al-Bzûriye , a 12th century hammâm : The warm room as the main bathing space. ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 5: Al- Ward, a 14th century hammâm : The warm room was still the predominant bathing space ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 6: Al-Tayrûzî , a 15th century hammâm: The hot room was expanded and became as important as the warm room ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 7: Al-Rifďí , a 16th century hammâm : The hot room became the main bathing space ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 8: Fethî , an 18th century hammâm : The hot room is the main bathing space ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 9: Sarûjî, a 12/ 13th century hammâm with a linear organization reminiscent of early Umayyad hammâms. ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 10: A pierced dome in hammâm Ammûna with decorative squinches. ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 11: A pierced vault in hammâm al-Omarî with original floor tiling and marble wash basins ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 12: Brochure advertising the new facilities ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 13: A barber shop in the undressing room of hammâm ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )
Figure 14: The undressing room of hammâm ( Source | Accessed : March 3, 2020 | Photographer: Unknown )

Style/Period(s):
No Style/Period Assigned.

Primary Material(s):
Ceramic, Stone

Function(s):
Health Facility

Related Website(s):

Significant Date(s):
12th Century, 13th Century, 14th Century, 15th Century, 16th Century, 17th Century, 18th Century

Additional Information:
The early Islamic hammâms evolved by assimilating an existing institution into a new society. In the first century of the Islamic calendar (A.D. 622), there was a widespread number of Roman three-room compositions (frigidarium, tepidarium, and caldarium), and the first Islamic hammâms consisted of a linear progression of rooms with varying temperatures. The religious requirements in Islam played an important role in the way hammâms developed. For example, the cold major feature of the Roman baths disappeared in the Islamic baths. Although pools existed in some hammâms of Palestine and Greater Syria, bathing by immersion was not common during the period. Instead, bathing in running water became the norm. This was because bathing by immersion was considered inappropriate as tanks of less than 1,000 liters could not be used for ritual washing-water could be polluted by an unclean person. Hot pool bathing also became optional, carried out by pouring water over the bather. It is only in Egypt that plunge pools have an important part of every hammâm, possibly because of the availability of water from the Nile.

Publications/Books in Print:
Sibley, Magda and Iain Jackson. "The Architecture of Islamic Public Baths of North Africa and the Middle East: An Analysis of their Internal Spatial Configurations." Arq : Architectural Research Quarterly 16, no. 2 (06, 2012): 155-170. doi:http://dx.doi.org.libproxy.newschool.edu/10.1017/S1359135512000462. https://login.libproxy.newschool.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.libproxy.newschool.edu/docview/1212338359?accountid=12261.

Sibley, Magda. “THE PRE-OTTOMAN PUBLIC BATHS OF DAMASCUS AND THEIR SURVIVAL INTO THE 21 ST. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research, vol. 24, no. 4, 2007, pp. 271–288. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43030808. Accessed 3 Mar. 2020.

Building Address: Multiple examples across North Africa. Examples are shown from Tunisia, Syria, Damascus

TAGS: Middle East, Islamic, North Africa, Hammams, Roman, Health Facility, Public Baths, Bathing, Syria, Damascus, Tunesia

Viewers should treat all images as copyrighted and refer to each image's links for copyright information.