Fantasia Bathhouse has been in operation for more than 100 years. It was the first European-style bathhouse to be constructed in Baku, meaning the design was not based on the Oriental concept of communal bathing, but rather on private, individual compartments.
Don't be put off by the grayish brown low heavy exterior façade of the building. It's easy to walk right despite the fact that the building takes up an entire block. Pause and take a peak inside. You'll be delightfully surprised how much this bathhouse lives up to its name - Fantasia!
This building is not just an historic bathhouse, it offers a Tea Room where you can sit with friends and enjoy a cup of black or herbal tea, with a slice of lemon, sugar lumps or nuggets of hard candy. Don't expect any other culinary delights like pastries, ice cream and exotic coffee flavors. Tea is the only beverage on the menu.
The architecture is Classical with elements of ancient Greek architecture - as reflected in the large columns that grace the building. The main feature of the Tea Room is a circular pool with sculptures of birds' heads on either side of the above the pool. The birds' beaks serve as fountains. Water spews from their mouths and the eyes light up with red bulbs when turned on. The Tea Room has a highly decorative ceiling and an ornate chandelier.
There are also some very attractive ceramic tiles painted with birds and deer.
Long corridors, leading to 26 private bathing rooms, spread out in opposite directions from the central hall. Most bathing compartments consist of two separate rooms - the cloakroom where one undresses and the second room with a shower and / or tub. Some rooms also have steam sauna.
The interiors of bathing rooms seem not to have changed substantially over the years. The walls are plastered with glazed ornamental tiles - primarily in hues of decorative pink, blue and green. Most of the tiles date to the original construction but a few have had to be replaced although attempts to replicate the delicate original design have not been highly successful.
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).
Open: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Seven days a week. Closed the first Wednesday of each month.
Fees: Rental of a private room for 1 hour costs between 8,000-10,000 manats (approximately $2). It includes a complimentary cup of "chai" (tea). Towels, soap, shampoo and a massage are extra. A few deluxe rooms are a bit more expensive (10,000 to 15,000 manats). Massage is 20,000 manats per hour.
It's possible to drop in just to enjoy a cup of tea - just 2,000 manats. That's quite cheap, given the unique atmosphere it offers - elegance, grandeur and relaxation.
Back to Index AI 13.2 (Summer 2005)
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