the tradition of hamam

A Turkish bath (Turkish: Hamam) is the Turkish variant of a sauna, distinguished by a focus on water, as opposed to steam.

In Western Europe, the Turkish bath as a method of cleansing the body and relaxation was particularly popular during the Victorian era. The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices.

Turks do not embrace anything the way it is, that's where the term A-La-Turca comes

architecture

The hamam combines the functionality and the structural elements of its predecessors in Anatolia, the Roman thermae and Byzantine baths, with the Central Asian Turkish tradition of steam bathing, ritual cleansing and respect of water. The Turkish bath has a more improved style and functionality from these structures that emerged as annex buildings of mosques or as re-use of the remaining Roman baths.

A typical hamam consists of three basic, interconnected rooms: the sıcaklık (or hararet -caldarium), which is the hot room; the warm room (tepidarium), which is the intermediate room; and the soğukluk, which is the cool room (frigidarium).

The sıcaklık usually has a large dome decorated with small glass windows that create a half-light; it also contains a large marble stone called göbek taşı (tummy stone) at the center that the customers lie on, and niches with fountains in the corners. This room is for soaking up steam and getting scrub massages. The warm room is used for washing up with soap and water and the soğukluk is to relax, dress up, have a refreshing drink, sometimes tea, and maybe a nap in your private cubicle.

customs and usage

The hamam entrance features a common hall known as camekan, which is surrounded by private cubicles, where you can undress. A room attendant known as yanaşma, will hand over a cotton wrap known as peştemal, a pair of slippers, and key for the safety deposit boxes for your valuables.

Both in mens and ladies baths, keeping the body covered is necessary. While ladies can either cover themselves with a peştemal, or swimsuit; men can only wear peştemal.

One in the Turkish bath first relaxes in the warm room that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air allowing the bather to perspire freely and adjust to temperature. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (sıcaklık) before splashing themselves with cold water.

In the hot room, you'll sit next to a kurna, which is a tap and a basin. You can fill your kurna with water, and splash yourself using the hamam bowl. There is no time limit for the hot room, but as it is hot some would lye down on the göbek taşı (tummy stone), or wait 5- 10 minutes before getting a kese (scrub). Once you have worked up a good sweat, the tellak ( masseuor in the men's section) or natır( masseuse in the women's section) will come and wash you. Then, you will be given a kese/scrub to get rid of dead skin layers, which may be followed by a soothing massage on the göbek taşı.After the massage, a cold shower may be taken as wished.

You may finally retire to the cooling-room for relaxation, while enjoying a cold beverage or traditional Turkish tea. A 5% to %10 tip is always welcome, if you wish to.