Relaxing like in 1001 Nights
The Turkish bath – a centuries-old tradition of bathing from the Arabic/Persian culture promises pure relaxation and a "feeling of rebirth". You can find out what it's all about and how such a bathing ritual looks like in the first part of our introductory series for the most wonderful wellness treatments.
Originally, the steam bath was a component of the strict Islamic purity law; therefore it was not only a place for cleaning and care, but also a social meeting place with a lively exchange of news. This is still the case today in traditional bath houses in Turkey and Arabic regions. The wellness idea dominates in Turkish baths in Germany and visitors often are not aware of the long tradition of this bathing culture from the Ottoman Empire. Still, it is exactly these fixed rituals that turn a visit in a Turkish bath into an unforgettable experience. Already the oriental flair of the rooms, which are usually of marble with a cupola in the middle, is captivating.
The ceremony itself starts with the removal of everyday clothing. A "peshtemal" is available for wrapping up – the patterned cloth made of cotton or linen, which covers men's loins and for women usually reaches from the armpit to the thigh. Wooden clogs called "Nalin" are available to put on your feet. They protect bare feet against the wet floor.
Now it's off to the shower. Sweat and dust are rinsed from the skin before a "Tellak" – a bath attendant with years of special training – or a "Natir" – a female attendant – accompanies the guest into the main room. The body warms up at comfortable temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees Celsius, pores open up, muscles relax, and the body starts to sweat. The body is then copiously lathered with fragrant soap foam at the so-called "tummy stone" in the centre of the room. A glove made of wild silk – the "Kese" – and a special motion is then used to remove dead skin cells and pore residue, stretch muscles and tendons, and increase the circulation in connective tissue.
From time to time, water is poured over the body from the traditional copper bowl. Toward the end, cold water is poured over arms and legs to stimulate and stabilize blood circulation. A pleasant oil massage forms the crowning highlight before – fully and deeply relaxed – entering a cooler room where tea is served and where both body and mind can be immersed in calmness and ultimate relaxation.
Public Turkish baths either offer different rooms or specific days for men and women. Joint visits are often possible in hotel facilities. A few things should be considered when selecting a suitable, oriental bath house: Hygiene is first and foremost. Mould, for example, shouldn't be found anywhere in any Hamam. Your privacy is also strictly protected in a traditional Hamam. Wearing the Peshtemal is part of every treatment. If you are a female and do not want to be treated by a "Tellak" but a "Natir", we recommend that you ask before your visit. The staff should be properly trained, which is a significant and decisive quality factor. And ultimately, a Turkish bath should have several rooms with different temperatures, but most importantly it should have a cooling room for relaxation.