Hammams are great places to see, both from the outside as from the inside. In Skopje I found two of them. Not fuctioning as hammams anymore (after the Ottomans were chased out of Macedonia, the hammams appartenly fell into decay). Nowadays they house art galleries. Great places to see some contemporary / moden art exhibits.
The narrow winding streets in Skopje will sometimes lead you to the grandiose courtyard of an ancient inn and at other times to the whirling dance of domes in a Turkish bath. There are two well-preserved bathhouses in the city that currently serve as an art gallery. Çifte Bath (16th century) and Davut Pasha Bath (15th century) no longer serve the physical health needs of the community; instead, they are an important part of the city’s artistic and cultural life. Once upon a time in ottoman times Skopje was a great city with full of civil, military and religious buildings. Also there were many hammams and inns.
This is the second largest old Turkish Bath in Skopje, after the Daut Pasha Amam (which is also a National Art Gallery). It lies in the old part of Skopje (Carsija) close to the Suli An (an old trading inn that now houses the Museum of the Old Skopje Bazaar and the Art Academy).
The Chifte Amam was built at the second half of the 15th century. Chifte means "pair", as men and women were bathing here separated, but under the same roof.
The water for the Amam (bath-house) probably was provided by the Old Stone Aqueduct.
The Chifte Amam is now a national art gallery. Two small rooms still remain in their original state, see the pictures.
The following was written on a sign about the Chifte Amam:
Its founder was Issa-Bey, Voyvoda and Commander of Skopje area.
As Hammam it functioned until 1916-17 after which as storeroom.
The Hammam area is 1056 square meter.
It is reconstructed after the 1963 earthquake.
It belongs to the type of double baths (for male and female) which is its name: Cift in Turkish means pair, double.
The bathing ritual in both parts was identical. From the wardrobe there was entrance to the acclimatization area, then to the auxiliary rooms (in the part for females for depilation and toiletry with a barber shop and toilets in the male compartment) with main bathing area after that.
There was a stand in the middle of this area made of stone for spending time sweating and massage. This place in the female compartment was called Hammam's Rose.
There were three rooms around it having higher temperature so called "halvet". By the walls of the main room and the halvets there were paved seats and marble tubs (kurna) from which water for bathing was taken. One of the halvet in the female compartment of the hammam was adapted for ritual bathing of the Skopje Jews and there was a marble pool instead of the tub.
The Daud Pasha Hammam, another old bath house, is much more worthy of a visit. Like the Cifte Amam described above, this has been converted into an art gallery, and actually has some exhibits inside! I don't know much about art, so I can't wax lyrical about the wonderful examples of oil paintings and watercolours from various eras, but let's just say I liked a lot of the art on show! What impressed me mroe was the building though...unlike the Cifte Amam, Daud Pasha Amam seems to have been renovated a little less heavy handedly, so it still feels like a bath house in parts...and more of the original decorations have been kept.
We were the only visitors that morning, and the caretaker seemed quite surprised by our visit. The door actually was closed, despite a sign saying it was open, but a knock or two brought him scurrying down the corridor with a book full of tickets, then with a bit of panic, he ran around the building switching on all the spotlights. Make sure to sign the visitors' book before you leave...
The Cifte Amam national gallery is housed in an old hammam (Ottoman bathhouse) in the centre of Carsija district. The building is impressive from the outside, but i have to say I was a bit miffed upon entering. The custodian gladly took our money at the door, but neglected to mention that the gallery was "between exhibitions", so there was not a single piece of art on the walls! The interior has been "renovated", which seems to mean that all traces of the former hammam have been plastered over, and only the decorated ceiling and domes remain...so if you are expecting to feel like you are in a Turkish bath, you'll be disappointed.
To see a better restored hammam, go to the Daud Pasha Amam (see tip below) close to the Stone Bridge, which is also a gallery, this time with exhibits!
I suppose I ought to explain why I won't be building many tips for other museums in Skopje. I'm not really a big museum person, but I do tend to seek them out if they happen to be in interesting buildings...for that reason, I did try to find both the Suli An and Kursumli An, two old trading inns in Carsija. Well, find them I did, but unfortunately whenever I walked past either, the gates were firmly locked, and it wasn't very easy to get a good photo of either.
The same goes for the Mustafa Pasha mosque, one of Skopje's must-see sights...it is currently undergoing renovation works, so is closed to worshippers and tourists alike.
Just after the Stone Bridge, in the old part of Skopje, you will find the Daut Pasha Amam, now housing the National Gallery. The National Gallery mainly shows contemporary art, but in case you are not interested in that, only the building itself is worth a visit.
The Daut Pasha Amam was built under Turkish rule in the 15th century as a bath house (amam).
The story goes that the amam was built by Daut Pasha as a sign for his love for an unknown girl, the two domes symbolizing the perfection of her breasts. On the top, the nipples were made of transparent alabaster. At night dozens of candles were burning under the alabaster nipples, sending their light into the sky as a sign of the love that should burst like a flame from the girl´s chest. They say that during the summertime, swarms of fireflies in fine silk nets were used instead of candles.
The water for the Amam (bath-house) probably was provided by the Old Stone Aqueduct.
Open 10.00-20.30, Monday closed.
The National Gallery "DAUT PASHA AMAM" is located on the right bank of the Vardar river, very near the Old Stone bridge from XV century. It was named after Daut Pasha (Turkish aristocrat in Skopje).
There is a permanent exhibition - Macedonian Art XIV-XX Century taking place every day except weekends.
These are the great Turkish baths of Skopje. They were built for the Great Vizier Daut Pasha in the 15th century, for his hareem legend has it. The two large domes at the front, pictured, were where the two sexes changed before entering the baths to the rear. Each of the smaller domes at the back cover a different bath. Another legend has it that the baths were closed after a snake in the walls bit his daughter and killed her. He banned the use of the baths from then on.
Today it the baths house the national gallery.
That building has two big and several smaller domes. Daut Pasha's Ammam is the former public bath and a typical Turkish bath. Now it is the National Gallery.
Building was also damaged in the fire of 1686 when the Austrian set fire to Skopje and most of buildings were burned to the ground. But sometime later it was restored.
You are right, ;) the two domes is the perfection of a girl's breast, because the pasha fallen in love to one unknown girl. They say at night dozens of candles were burning just under the alabaster vaults, sending teir light as sign of love that should burst like a flame from the girl's chest. That was what the pasha was waiting for.
Davut Pasha's Bath: This project is one of the most prominent monuments of the Islamic profane architecture. The Turkish bath was built by the grand vizier of Rumeli, Davut Pasha in the 15th century. In the first time it was used for the needs of its harem, and later it served as a public bath. Today, the Turkish bath is turned into an art gallery with a wide choice of Macedonian icons of the 14th to the 19th century, collective works of Macedonian artists - pictures, sculptures, graphics, and drawings and more recently in the rooms of the Turkish bath also concerts are held, promotions of books, theater performances with chamber orchestra etc.
After the excellent renovation of Daut Pasha aman -- the renovation of Chifte aman was a further step in providing good gallery space in Skopje. This photo is of a small unrenovated room with some very old stone artifacts. Both are in the old market area.
Any exhibition in the Daut Pasha Amam (a public bath during the ruling of the Ottoman Empire, and today a beautiful art galery)
The Jazz Festival in October, because it is really good!
A visit to the caves in Matka...
In case you're fit enough, CLIMB Vodno! It is a good exercise and it is worth it! I still don't have a picture of the (oh-so-famous) Millenium Cross the decided to build on top of Vodno. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and frankly - I wasn't too happy with this decision. Nevertheless, Vodno remains to be a great place to "escape" the urban life!
Daut Pasha aman now the National Gallery of Art
This once was the largest 'turkish bath' in the Balkan region. It went broke because it was too big to heat! After a long stint as an art gallery it has now been renovated and reopened as the National Gallery of Art. It still needs air-conditioning to protect the art, but it looks wonderful! The domes have little star shaped skylights that twinkle when you are inside.
Inside Carsija (the Old Bazaar) is the second largest Turkish baths in Skopje, the Cifte Amam. Like tha Duad Pasha Amam these are also now an art museum with temporary exhibits.