Ali Gholi Agha Hammam

September 13, 2018

In the past, the hammam (or public bathhouse) was not only a place for cleaning oneself but a site for visiting old friends and relatives as well. A hot space where people became aware of the latest social and political news of the day, it also served as a therapy building; old people went for massage to relieve all the pressure and leave behind the stress of a whole working week.

Nowadays, such bathhouses are abolished almost entirely; and have been turned into museums, or residential resorts.

One excellent hammam is Ali Gholi Agha, in the Beed Abad neighborhood of Isfahan. The compound consists of a mosque, hammam, market, and caravansary. Ali Gholi Agha was developed for public purposes in the Safavid era.

Impressively built, the hammam artistically displays astonishing patterns in Persian architecture.

One interesting thing about the hammam is its lighting mechanism. Light was supplied by convex glass openings in the dome-shaped ceilings, which not only prevented energy waste but also disseminated light throughout the whole building. Another highlight is that from the outside, it was impossible to see inside.

The bathhouses were usually fueled by wood or coal; even the smoke was directed through pipes in the floor to disinfect the area, protect hygiene and warm up the place as well. In this way, the efficient Iranian bathhouses used little energy.

The massive hammam of Agha Ali Khan developed over the Safavid, Qajar and Pahlavi eras, in an area of 1,200 square meters. After some elegant restoration, it has been open to the public as a museum since 2005.

This amazing site puts on view Iran’s old culture and architecture and takes you back in time to when people’s lifestyle was very different.

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