A bunch of baths books:
some of the better books on baths
published during the life of this website


This is a single frame, printer-friendly page taken from

one of the linked parts of an article published on Malcolm Shifrin's website

Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline


Original page with links



List of noticed books

1913: Design of the Turkish bath / Cosgrave   2003: Turkish baths / Yılmazkaya
2004: Cathedrals of the flesh / Brue   2004: Victoria Baths / Williams
2005: Hammams / Meunier   2006: Water is best / Durie




Hammaming in the Sham

This delightful book relates the author's journey round the hammams of Damascus, Aleppo, and various other places in modern Syria. Richard Boggs shares with us the knowledge he has gained while travelling around the country, and tells us about some of the interesting conversations he has had with those who own, manage, and bathe in these—often very old—hammams.

The book is well illustrated throughout with around 170 of the author's own colour photographs. There are bibliographical notes at the end of each chapter and a glossary which tells us, for example, that Bilad al-Sham is 'the region bordering on the eastern Mediterranean that is roughly equivalent to the modern states of Syria and Lebanon and part of Palestine'.

An author who relates discussions about whether the hammams are Turkish baths or Arab baths, or Syrian baths or Roman baths, is someone well worth reading.

The Victorian Turkish Baths website is about its 'origin, development, and gradual decline', and it is significant that the decline of the bath has also occurred in Syria and Turkey, though rather quicker—yet for the same reason: the relatively recent widespread installation of bathrooms in the home. Boggs suggests that once there were 365 hammams in Damascus alone; enough to enable a bather to visit a different one every day for a year. Today, fewer than 20 survive.

There is much else beside the baths to interest the reader in this book, and all is written in a totally relaxed and readable style. The hammams have obviously exerted their charm and done their work well.

The author has worked for over ten years in the Arabic-speaking world, teaching in Yemen, Lebanon, and Sudan.

Hammaming in the Sham: a journey through the Turkish baths of Damascus, Aleppo and beyond was published by Garnet in 2010. The book is well worth adding to your personal library.

This page first published December 2010


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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

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