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Turkish Hammam and its Rituals

Discover Turkey, home of hammam rituals


Turkish Bath and its Rituals

Visiting a Turkish bath is more than an act of cleansing. It is a ritual of purity and relaxation in a unique architecture and atmosphere. Going to Turkish bath has its own rituals, knowing what to do saves energy and makes the experience more worthwhile.

Experience Hammam

No trip to Turkey is complete without a trip to a Turkish bath, a tradition dating back thousands of years.

In days gone by, hammams were the social centre, with many a woman using a trip to the hammam as the way to check potential future bride. Today, many Turkish people still put time aside to regularly visit a hammam. It is still common for groups of women to attend the hammam together as part of pre-wedding preparations.

Most towns in Turkey have a hammam, although in less touristy areas there may be specific times for men and women to visit. In Istanbul, the large hammams have separate men's and women's sections. Some of the touristic towns often have a mixed hammam, so wearing a swimsuit is essential.

For your first hammam experience, we advise you to visit one of the big Turkish hammams and to spend extra time for relaxing massage. Some Turkish words before you go to hammam;

  • Kese: A small pouch type of cloth to wash
  • Pestemal: A traditional cotton body wrap
  • Sicaklik: Hot area
  • Kurna: Bathing basins
  • Halve: Private bathing cubicles
  • Tellak: An attendant
  • Sogukluk: Cold section

Turkish Hammam Rituals

The bathing itself has an elaborate process involving various equipments and procedures.

What to Expect: When you get to the hammam, you decide if you want to get a traditional Turkish bath in which someone washes you a bit harshly, kind of like a massage with a lot of foam, a self wash or some kind of modern massage that are becoming popular in fancy hammams.

What to Wear: You will get your a small pouch type of cloth to wash, a traditional cotton body wrap and soap if you like. Then you go to the dressing room area where you take off your clothes and wrap your body with the pestemal.

Hot Area: Now you are ready to get into the hot area which has a heated marble platform in the middle. This area is called heat and has many bathing basins and private bathing cubicles.

What Happens Inside: The first thing to do is to let your body perspire. Lay down on the hot marble and start watching light coming in from the holes of the hammam's dome. When you get too hot, you could go to one of the basins and pour some water on yourself. If you chose to be washed by a Tellak, comes and tells you to lay down. Tellak will give you an exfoliating scrub which at the end surprises many people by the amount of dead skin and dirt coming out of the body. It is truly purifying. After the bath another attendant will wash you by the one of the basins, including hair wash if you like.

Before you Leave: After the washing session, you may wish to stay and relax while enjoying a cold drink as many people do. And leave whenever you want, there is no time limit in hammams.

Health Tourism in Turkey

Traditional Turkish Hammam