THE TRADITIONAL TURKISH BATH

Turkish baths, originally called Hammam, are probably in part a version of the Roman and Byzantine baths - a tradition of the Roman Empire that extended to Turkey in the 7th century. The concept is based on places of extreme cleansing where body cleansing stood side by side with the purification of the soul. Popularized around 600 AD, hammams used to be spaces where major events of social life were celebrated, including weddings and births, which ritual baths incorporated into the ceremonies

The hammam is still a meeting point for social events and to relax. The visitor usually receives a towel a pair of sandals and an exfoliating glove - the kese - just at the entrance. Usually the baths consist of three main areas: the hot steam room - a type of damp sauna - with a large marble stone in the center where bathers lie down while attendants apply massages and a scrub with foams and the exfoliating glove; a hot bath room; and a cool room for the rest. Nowadays it is common to have separate areas according to sex and nudity is optional.

 

In Istanbul you can visit the historic Cagaloglu Hamami, a palatial marble bath that was built in 1741.

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