The Turkish bath, or also known as hammam spa, is a place where the locals visit for a restorative soak or massage. For centuries, the hammam spa was more than just a place to rejuvenate the body as it was also intimately related to the everyday life where people regardless of age and background come freely to have social activities.
The tradition of the Turkish bath extends far back to a time before the Turks reached Anatolia. They brought with them a significant bathing tradition combined with the Romans and Byzantines then merged with the Muslim concept for cleanliness and its concomitant respect for the use of water. This new concept is then called the hammam spa.
Hammam spa is of great importance in terms of art and architecture for the Turkish people. The external of the hammam is significant as they reflect the architectural features of a mosque. Many of them have inscriptions on the walls indicating the date of construction and the architect, complemented with glorious bright domes. There are three parts to the Turkish hammam, they are the changing rooms, hot room (sicaklik) and boiler room (kulhan).
On top of that, the Turkish bath is also the home of the tradition of physical and spiritual purification. Due to continuous high-temperature water, the environment is highly humid which will cause a rise of body temperature, increase in blood circulation and stimulation of the immune system. According to medical believe, sweating in a hammam for about 15 minutes can benefit the kidneys as it enables the elimination of toxins from the body. However, cardiac patients or people with blood pressure problems are advised to consult a doctor before going to the hammam spa.
Before entering the hammam spa, there are a few things to understand and take note of. For instance, there are various options of services provided – self-service, traditional style or other services. Self-service requires one to bathe your own self by bringing your own toiletries and towels. As for first timers, traditional style is the best recommendation as they will get to enjoy the real Turkish bath experience with the assistance of an attendant who will wash and massage you for approximately 15 minutes. Some establishments also offer several other services such as aromatherapy oil massage, reflexology and facial clay mask.
The hammam observes strict etiquette where there is no mixing of both sexes during the bath. Usually, there are two sections of the bath – one for each sex – or it admits men and women at separate times throughout the day. Bath towels or pestamals will be given to wrap around the torso from below the armpits to about mid-thigh during hammam visits.
If you’re traveling to Turkey, why not experience an authentic Turkish bath after a long day of sightseeing? After all the steaming, scrubbing, massaging and cooling down, complete your session with a good cup of Turkish tea or coffee.
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Source Credits: Tourism Turkey