Thousand Years of Experience : Turkish Baths
Turkish Bath or Hammam : If you want to get rid of the grime from traveling to Istanbul’s famous hammams, don’t be intimidated by the rituals. There are a few simple rules to keep your cool .
What is a Turkish bath or Hammam?
A Turkish bath or hammam is closer to a Roman bath. It is based on the same principles as the steam bath but the focus is on water rather than steam. In Turkey the hammam is a gently heated, tiled room with a heated marble slab called göbek taşı (belly stone). Visitors lie on the stone slab and are scrubbed for exfoliation, then massaged with oils and finally washed clean with hot water.
The Turkish bath combines the techniques of the Roman bath with that of the central Asian steam bath. The Turks called the Roman baths, hammam, which is actually an Arabic word meaning bath. Some of the early Turkish baths were in old Roman baths while others were built adjacently to mosques, serving both as communal centers and as houses of worship.
Many baths were built under the Ottoman empire, particularly in its capital Istanbul but were also present in every Ottoman city. In Turkish bath or hammam, there are separate quarters for men and woman, in smaller baths men and women were admitted at different times.
These days Turkish baths employ trained adult attendants called Tellak to massage visitors.
Traditional Turkish Bath or Hammam is called as the place which helps muscles to relax, body to rest, spiritual and physical dirt can be purification. In the early period of the Ottoman people, cleaning was an important and vital necessity, so they usually went to the baths as there were no bathing facilities in their homes. Going to a hammam is a very common and traditional activity. Especially women, once a week, went to the hammam together, they were cleaned there and together they would eat and have fun.
Structure of a Turkish Batch or Hammam
Turkish Bath or Hammam is different from other baths in several ways. The most important role in this difference is the internal structural changes. Turkish baths generally consist of three parts as dressing, washing and heating. The dressing section is where visitors changing clothes before and after the bath.
Today, dressing sections are made as cabins or rooms. Washing section is the main section of the Hammam, where visitors clean, bath and rest. The washing section actually consists of three parts. Kurna; the place of hot and cold water taps and where people wash, Halvet; the closed area where people use and wash alone and Göbektaşı is a humid steam chamber, the central, raised platform above the heating source. Heating section is located under the Hammam and the heater welding works continuously. This heater is used to heat both the water and the bath.
The Turkish Bath or hammam ritual steps
- After you changed your clothes and wrap your peştemal to your body, it starts in a humid steam room for softening the body skin and to make easier scrubbing.
- You should stay 10 to 15 minutes in the hot room.
- When the skin softens, the dead skin is removed exfoliating it with a kessa glove by Tellak, a bath attendant on the ,göbektaşı, hot chamber.
- After the body is completely peeling, dead skins are removed with water.
- Then start the foam massage with a soft pouch the bath attendant lathered you with a sudsy swab.
- And then the traditional foam massage begins. The body muscles are massaged sometimes hard and sometimes relaxing.
- In the final, the Tellak rinses you with warm water and all the ritual ends. However, if you want to get a mask, mask is applied to the face and wait for 15 minutes, then washed.
- After your massage finished, bath attendant takes you to the cooling or intermediate room to cooling down. The cooling place actually in the same place with showers and toilets.
- You can take a shower, if you want and go to change your clothes.
First, speak to Hammam receptionist (most speak English) and show your booking ticket if you bought the experience from us. See Çembertlitaş Historical Bath Experience.
If you didn’t buy from us, you will pay the receptionist who will take you to a cloakroom, usually your own lockable room, where you can undress and leave your belongings.
“Soyunun (Undress / Déshabiller”) pretty much means what you mean. Most steam rooms have separate steam rooms for men and women. In this situation, men are expected to maintain a certain level in loincloth cover, but women can be careful with the winds. Most Turkish women drape themselves subtly with their linen when they are not bathing, but if you prefer to bask naked, nobody If you’re feeling shy, all or part of a bathing suit is okay. If you’re in the kind of hammam that has hammams and mixed male attendants, it’s common to keep at least the bottom half ‘a swimsuit.
You will be given a cloth (in most establishments, resembling an oversized red gingham tea towel). You will keep this to travel from the changing rooms to the hammam. Your guide will also give you shoes – traditional wooden clogs or fluorescent flip-flops. Stay with them. As a fall-friendly surface, only banana peels have superior resistance to wet marble.
Gobektaşı – Belly stone
You have been taken to the Istanbul hammams, you will have to lounge on the heated marble. In most cases there will be a göbektaşı (belly stone), a round central platform where you can stroll like a python in the sun. Otherwise, take a seat and lean against the walls. The idea is to sweat while removing dirt and toxins for your washing.
If you log in self-service, then do it with a cloth soaked in loofah and soap and coat the water in the marble basins. If you are looking for a companion, it will catch up with you once you have perspired well for 15 minutes. You will lie on the edge of the göbektaşı and sprinkled with warm water, then your attendant will take you in hand.
The first step is a dry massage with a kese (rough glove). According to your guide, this experience can be delicious (a bit like being washed by a giant cat) or tumultuous (imagine a sandpaper tornado). If you feel like a skinned deer, use the international language of the charade to reduce it by a notch or two.
Next will be the soap. The attendant will prepare a thick foam with a huge sponge and press it on you. It’s a bit like having a bubble bath without the bath. The foam will be worked in every inch of you. Then, more messy, followed by a shampoo, and voila, you are clean like a whistle: the brilliant kind.
Oil Massage (Usually optional)
If you ordered an oil massage, you will be taken to another room. Unless you are particularly in color, it is probably best to miss this step: massages are brief and often lack finesse, and the oils are hardly luxurious.
After the massage, either with soap or oil, you are alone. Many tourists interfere in the hammam experience and leave immediately after their treatment. Don’t be one of them. Drag. Overheat, cool with a sprinkle and repeat to wilt. Let your muscles turn into toffee and your mind becomes pleasantly elastic. Do not forget to drink your tea! This is what the Turkish bath or hammam really is.
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