"Here, attendants would rub, scrub, exfoliate, sluice, shave and apply henna to bathers."
Bath House of the Winds
Once upon a time, a visit to the hammam was like spending a couple of hours on social media catching up on all the gossip. So how fitting that a tour of Athens’ only surviving public baths (dating from the time of Ottoman rule) is led by a digital app that immerses you in the sounds and rituals of this once bustling bath-house. You’ll hear the merry chat, laughter and live music that once played in the galleried changing rooms, as bathers stripped off to towels and clogs. Follow in their footsteps into the snug tepidarium, where warm temperatures gently prepared pores for the beauty treatments ahead in the caldarium - a steamy chamber heated by underground cisterns (still visible in places). Here, attendants would rub, scrub, exfoliate, sluice, shave and apply henna to bathers. Though the tradition of communal bathing has been recorded since the 5th century BC in Athens, this particular hammam was first mentioned in 1677 as the Hammam of Abid Efendi. In the late 19th century, separate quarters for men and women were added. The bath-house functioned until 1956, then lay empty for three decades before it was restored and reopened as a museum.