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The Hamam is a traditional Turkish steam bath, which serves both physical and mental purification.
The history of the Hamam
The tradition of the hamam dates back to the Middle Ages and was created by mixing the Roman, Turkish and Byzantine bathing cultures. Initially, the visit of the hamam was reserved for high-ranking personalities. However, the strict cleanliness requirement of Islam encouraged the development of public baths that were accessible to everyone. Therefore, hamams were often found near mosques. Strict care was taken to ensure that both sexes did not disturb each other during the relaxation and bathing ceremonies. However, the visit of the hamam was not only for cleanliness, but also had a social component even then. It was a place for meeting, relaxation and cosmetic care, where one could do business, make marriage arrangements or simply relax and enjoy its treatments. Today the religious aspect of the hamam has faded into the background and the hamam has established itself as an oasis of peace and relaxation.
How does a bathing ceremony take place in a hamam?
The hamam ceremony takes place in three rooms with different temperatures. The first room, sogunmalik or camekan, serves as a changing room. There the everyday clothes are exchanged for a wraparound cloth, pestemal. After changing clothes, the first step is to take a shower to wash off the dust of the day. Then follows the walk into the steam bath. At a room temperature of 50°C to 60°C
- relax the muscles
- the pores of the skin open and
- the water vapour cleans the respiratory tract.
In the steam room, sicaklil or hararet, there is a large marble stone, also called navel stone, which is heated from below. On the navel stone the visitor is made to sweat at temperatures between 40°C and 50°C degrees. Then the body is rubbed off by the bath attendant, the Telak, with a washing and peeling glove, the Kese. The Kese is usually made of goat hair and the massage is a full-body peeling. Through a special movement technique
- Skin scales and pore deposits removed
- muscles and tendons stretched and
- the connective tissue is supplied with blood.
Warm water is poured over and over again.
This cleansing massage is followed by a very relaxing lather massage. The body is completely lathered with a fragrant soap and massaged through by the hamam master. After the lather massage, the lather is rinsed off with a few pours of water. Finally, the circulation is stabilised with a few cold showers.
After this treatment the visitor enters the cold room, sogukluk, where he can cool down and relax with a traditionally brewed tea.
What do I have to consider when visiting the hamam?
You should allow at least three hours for a visit to the hamam. Due to the low temperatures of the Turkish steam bath, a stay in the hamam is more gentle than a visit to the sauna. In principle, hamam treatments should not be carried out more than twice a month, as the skin needs time to regenerate from the peeling with the rough cheese.
Are pregnant women also allowed to visit the Hamam?
The hamam is an alternative to the Finnish sauna, which can be a strain on the circulation of pregnant women due to its high temperatures. In the hamam, the temperatures are between 40°C and 60°C. In the Turkish and Arabic regions, women visit a hamam up to approx. 4 weeks before delivery to prepare for the birth by relaxing. The massages are carried out in a sitting position and no black tea is served after the treatments. To be on the safe side, you should talk to your gynaecologist before visiting a hamam.
Can I choose between a female and a male practitioner?
The treatments in the hamam are carried out strictly according to gender. There is often a department exclusively for men and an area reserved for women. Accordingly, the women are cared for by female and the men by male practitioners.
Who should refrain from visiting the Hamam?
In principle, a visit to a hamam is suitable for everyone who has no problems with a sauna visit. A visit to the hamam is not recommended or only after consultation with a doctor for people with
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Varicose Veins
- acute infections or
- inflammation of the skin or upper respiratory tract
What do I need to bring for my visit to the Hamam?
You can bring your sauna equipment with you for a visit to the hamam:
- Bathing shoes
Possibly swimming costume, bikini or your own plaguemal.
Towel packages and other utensils can also be rented or bought in the hamam
Related topics: Baths Steam bath – aromatherapy steam bath Detoxing Massage Exfoliation