Summer 2000 (8.2)
at the Fantasia Bathhouse and Tearoom
by Marjan Abadi and Farida Sadikhova
Fantasia Bathhouse, built in 1887 during the Oil Boom, has been
in operation for more than 100 years. It's not just a historic
bathhouse that's still open to the public; it also has a tearoom
where you can sit with friends and enjoy a cup of black or herbal
tea. But don't expect many commercial amenities - that's part
of its charm. Fantasia still has a very folksy, one-of-a-kind
When you pay a visit, don't be put off by the gray outside walls
of the building. Since sandblasters haven't hit this building
yet, it's easy to walk right by it. But inside, it really lives
up to its name - Fantasia!
Left: The ornamental pool
in the teahouse of the Fantasia bath house.
Many of the Fantasia's 26 baths feature showers decorated with
antique tile; others have antique marble. The bathhouse is very
private, as it only attracts 10 to 15 people a day. During the
Soviet period, there used to be a line of people waiting outside
before the bathhouse opened each morning. Today, however, most
Azerbaijanis cannot afford this luxury.
In the courtyard behind the bathhouse is the well that supplies
the water for bathhouse. In an adjacent building is the heating
plant where huge tanks filled with the water are heated with
gas or sometimes mazut (black oil).
of the more luxurious baths in Fantasia have three rooms: one
where you undress and hang your clothes up on the wall, another
where you can sit and have tea at a small table and a third with
a large shower as well as a sauna. You can hire a masseuse as
well. It's more expensive to rent this set of rooms (30,000 manats
per hour, about $8), but where else can you have your own private
Left: Lion head fountain
If you plan to visit Fantasia, keep in mind that the bathhouse
has a rule about coed showering. Any couple that wants to bathe
in the same room has to prove that they are husband and wife
- with a marriage certificate.
Perhaps you just want to visit Fantasia to enjoy a leisurely
cup of tea. The tearoom serves both herbal and black tea, along
with lemon and hard candies. "It's a very nice place,"
says Alakbar Novruzov, who works in the tearoom. "People
come here to relax. It's very pleasant to listen to the trickle
of water from the fountain in here."
Since the tearoom has such a beautiful setting, it has often
been used in Azerbaijani TV programs and miniseries. Its fountain
and floral-tiled walls have also appeared in music videos for
popular singers like Baloghlan Ashrafov.
Above left: Marble tubs in the
private rooms of the bath house. Photo: Marjan Abadi
Above right: Floor plan Fantasia
by Shamil Fatullayev
Perhaps because Fantasia is so private, famous Azerbaijani actors
like Rasim Balayev, Ramiz Azizbeyli and Yashar Nuri have been
known to pay a visit - just to relax and have a cup of tea.
Above: Fantasia's plush tearoom
- a restful, luxurious place to drop in for a cup of black or
Fantasia Bathhouse and Tearoom
114 Chingiz Mustafayev Street (formerly Surakhanskaya Street)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 7 days a week, closed first Wednesday
of each month
Fees: 1 hour costs 8,000 manats ($2), includes free tea; towels,
soap, shampoo and/or massage extra; Tea only, 2,000 manats
Alakbar Novruzov was interviewed by
Farida Sadikhova and Marjan Abadi.
(8.2) Summer 2000.
© Azerbaijan International 2000. All rights reserved.
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