The Titanic's Turkish Bath

Toros Delights

The famous doomed ship, the Titanic, was not only a mode of transport, but contained the greatest trappings of luxury during its time. Completed in 1912, the Titanic set sail from Southampton UK to New York, carrying 2224 passengers on its route. Of course, this voyage came to an end in the Atlantic after the Titanic hit an iceberg, and 1500 passengers lost their lives.

Aside from the loss of life, and the sinking of ship deemed unsinkable, another aspect that made the Titanic a compelling story for over a century is the shock of the wealthiest people in the world sinking along with everyone else - and just how nice their accommodations were on the Titanic to begin with. A particularly spectacular part of this luxuriousness was the Turkish Bath, or Hammam, onboard.

There was a steam room, a hot room, temperate room, shampooing room, capped off with a cooling room. Visitors would get massages, go to the salt-water pool, or sit in a new electrically heated bed. The cooling room was said to have some of the most spectacular decoration on the ship - resplendent with blue and green tiles in the Moorish style.

The Turkish Bath aboard the Titanic was not exactly the same as the Turkish Baths of Turkey. They were, however, a variation - called the Victorian Ottoman Bath. Unlike the Hammams of the Ottoman Empire, they all featured pools - but similarly to them, they focused on the humid air (unlike the steam of a Russian bath.)

In 1850, David Urquhart sought to popularize Ottoman culture in Britain, and wrote a book detailing Hammams of North Africa. Richard Barter read this book in 1856 and created what he called a Turkish Bath in Ireland. In short order, this Victorian version of the Turkish Bath became all the rage up until the time of the Titanic. However, they fell out of fashion sometime later, and most Victorian Turkish Baths closed down.

Though the Titanic’s Turkish Bath was not strictly speaking Turkish in origin, it did come out of a movement to popularize Turkey - and this movement caught fire. We at Toros Delights see no reason why beautiful things from Turkey can’t make their way back to the Western World (though perhaps with a better fate than the Titanic.)