An architectural landmark of more than four centuries hides under the ground, overgrown with bushes, in Veliko Tarnovo. These are the old Turkish baths, called hammams, built during the Turkish occupation, which are located by the Yantra River, at the foot of the Humanities High School. The idea to clear the spaces belongs to the enthusiasts from the club “TAM”, who are developing the project “Open City”.
They recently posted pictures of the interior of one of the bathrooms. Few devotees had the opportunity to get acquainted with its authentic beauty. Beautiful arches, lavish oriental ornaments, traces of mosaics and murals are still well preserved in the space, which is hidden from the eyes of passers.
It was very disappointing to find out that the bathroom had been used for years as a place to dispose of waste material from a nearby carpentry workshop. The chips that were left to rot in it caused great damage to the walls and floor.
The place can be cleared and the space outside ennobled. The first task of the project is to establish the ownership of the sites. Once the place is cleared and there is provided access to this architectural and historical jewel, steps can be taken for its restoration, according to the evaluation and opinion by municipal and museum experts.
The legendary hammams in Veliko Tarnovo have their history from the years of Turkish slavery, when along with mosques, mansions, numerous cafes and inns, they were a special accent in the architectural appearance of the old capital Tarnovo. According to historians, there were three public baths in the city in the past. The baths were dug into the ground, vaulted, supplied with water and heating, with separate men’s and women’s wards.
Going to the bathroom for the old people of Tarnovo was an unique event in which whole families, companies of friends and others took part. Bathing in the hammams turned into a holiday, accompanied by ritual eating of specially prepared culinary masterpieces.
The story goes that in 1887 the first celebration dedicated to the great poet and revolutionary from Kalofer took place in the public bath Bash Hamam, managed by Botev’s associate Yordan Yordanov Indjeto.