Situated in the immediate vicinity of Suli inn in the old Bazaar in Skopje, Chifte Hammam was built in mid-15th century and is the second-largest hammam from this period. It was built by the third border-area voivode Isa Bey and is also mentioned as an endowment in the waqfname of the Isa Bey Mosque in 1531. It belongs to the type of double hammams (baths); its name itself identifies it as such. Its exterior appears as a single structure, while in its interior, there are two fully separated sections, with separate entrances to the baths for men and women. The main rooms are covered with two large domes, while the halvets (bathing cubicles) and other chambers are vaulted with a large number of small domes, today covered with sheet metal.
The women’s bath was in the southwest part of the building and its outline/setup resembles those of single baths. The men’s part stood in the northeast part of the building and had a larger number of chambers than the women’s part. The arrangement of the rooms in both parts, i.e., their organization is typical and depends on their purpose: first, one entered the anteroom (meydan or shadrvan) which was also intended for relaxation and then, through a partially warmed room (kapaluk), to the bathing space (halvet).
The rich wall decoration of the surfaces below the domes, that is, the tromps and pendentives, contribute to the significance of this public bath. Today, the stylized geometric and vegetative ornaments, stalactites and rhombuses rendered with great precision in low relief survive only in fragments in some of the halvets. The characteristic frieze with Turkish triangles provides the transition to the surfaces below the domes. The application and presence of decorative elements is yet another visible difference between the men’s and women’s baths – they are more numerous in the men’s part of the bath.
The bath also had a space in the northwest part which served as a bath for the Jewish population. This was, in fact, a separate halvet with a pool for ritual bathing. The bath was lit with the light which came from the openings in the domes and window openings below the domes when the Sun was in its zenith. During its existence Chifte Hammam was probably damaged several times: in the earthquake which struck the Skopje region in 1555, in which a number of buildings were damaged as well, and during the great fire in the 17th century when the structure was damaged to a lesser extent. its full conservation began after the earthquake of 1963, when the bath suffered more extensive damage. Due to the fact that it was solidly built, the hammam mainly preserved its original appearance; however, the elements characteristic of all Turkish baths, such as göbektash (navel stone), kurnes (marble basins), etc., have not survived.
Chifte Hammam lost its function in 1916/17 and its rooms, with certain adaptations, were used as a storage space. Today it is the site of the art gallery.
Nikolovski A., Balabanov K., Kjornakov D., „Chifte amam”, Spomenici na kulturata na Makedonija, Skopje 1980, 49.
Ayverdi E.H., avrupa’daosmanlı Mimari eserleri – Yugoslavya, iii. cild, 3.Kitab, İstanbul 1981, 252.
Kumbaradzi-Bogoevich L., Osmanliski spomenici vo Skopje, Skopje 1998, 169-175.
Özer M., Üsküp’te türk Mimarisi (XiV-XiX y.y), atatürk Kültür dil ve tarih Yüksek Kurumu, Ankara, 2006.
Pavlov Z., Çifte hamam, Ottoman Monuments, Cultural heritage protection office, Skopje, 2009, 84-87.
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