The famous traveler Evliya Chelebi writes that in the 17th century there were eight public baths in Plovdiv and over 100 private ones. Experts say these buildings were unique. Huge rooms and water were heated with amazingly little fuel.
The biggest of all was the Takhtakale Bath, which was located in Kapana on today's Benkovski Street. It featured five domed compartments, the largest of which served as a place where visitors stripped and sweat. According to information from the mid-17th century, more than 1,000 people passed through the bathroom every day. Probably by 1910 it was demolished.
The second-largest bath was the Hünkyar Hammam. After the Liberation, it was rebuilt for the Eastern Rumelia Regional Assembly. Four figures were painted on the dome - Justice, Peace, Power, and Law. The complete remodeling of the bath and its decoration are the work of Italian architect Pietro Montani. After 1885 the archives of the court were kept in the building. It was severely damaged by the earthquake and in 1930 its destruction began.
Of all the former public baths in Plovdiv, only two have survived to this day. One of them, known in the past by the name Eni Hamam, by 1902 was called Korona and later adopted the name, Tsar Boris. After 1925, the municipality led a 20-year war for its demolition, but the old building still stands today at the intersection between Ruski and ShestiSeptembvri boulevards and is known to us as Orta Mezar. Until the fire that destroyed it, it was a warehouse for furniture. There are plans to restore it, but there is currently no such activity.
Another old bath, formerly called Chelebi Kadia, is still in place and is now known as Chifte Banya. Today it is a center for modern art.
One of the oldest in Plovdiv is the bathroom known as the Kazasker Hammam. Chengene Hamam (i.e. gypsy bath) was also old, as was Varosh Hammam in Karshiyaka at the Maritza River Bridge. There’s also talk about two other public baths - one on Otets Paisii Street and the other at the beginning of the current Tsanko Dyustabanov Street.
The oriental nap of the glorious hammam was broken in September 1896, when the first European-style establishment appeared in Plovdiv. This is the famous Tsar Simeon Bath by Tenyu Charakchiev. There were baths, showers, a swimming pool, rooms with soft beds for rest. The sheets were snow white and ironed, the floor was white marble, 12 fans were refreshing the air.
Startled, the owners of the old hammams rushed to make improvements. Advertisements in former newspapers indicate fierce competition. But that didn't help either. One by one, the old public baths began to disappear, and today only in the archives we find photos and information about their important role in public life under the hills.