Akko Turkish Baths

February 6th 2013

Visit the Acco Turkish BathsThe “Hamam al-Basha” Turkish baths from the Ottoman period have been turned into a museum of life in the Holy Land in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, the history of Akko’s Ottoman Empire-era aristocrats’ bathhouse comes to life in a multimedia show featuring fictitious bath attendants of the hamam. They will show you how the bath operated, tell you about the history of the city of Akko and demonstrate the role of the bathhouse in the daily life of the city.

Visitors will pass through the dressing room, where bathers left their clothes and collected them. They will then enter the intermediary rooms where cosmetic treatments, healing and massage treatments, dating parties and childbirth preparation sessions took place. The last stop is the steam room, which contained a heated pool and a steam bath. Tourists will have the opportunity to observe the complicated ritual of the bathhouse, which makes modern showers seem bland in comparison.

The hamam began functioning following its establishment by the governor of Akko, Jezzar Pasha, who died in 1804, and it remained in operation until 1948. The wealthy inhabitants of the city, as well as its professionals (barbers, doctors, etc.), gathered here to bathe, relax, gossip, discuss the issues of the day and meet friends. It also afforded a rare opportunity for women to socialize, as they were mostly confined to the home.

Turkish culture clearly placed major value on bathhouses as centers where community members enjoyed therapeutic cleansing, rubbed elbows and observed life cycle rites of passage. Historically, the construction of the bathhouse signified the reestablishment of the city of Akko, which had been in ruins from the time of the Ottoman conquest in 1517. The hamam also played a part in Israel’s War of Independence, when the Irgun used it as a bridge to gain entrance into the Akko prison and break out Jewish prisoners held by the British.

Tours are available in Hebrew, Arabic, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. The multimedia show is 30 minutes long and will delight both children and adults.

Akko has many other tourist attractions, including the Akko Prison, the Templar tunnels, the Hospitallers’ citadel and the Bahai shrine.