Hamam (Turkish bath)
Hamam, commonly known as a Turkish bath, is a practice originally inherited by the Ottoman Turks from the Roman Empire and adapted to Turkish culture. The tradition of public steam bathing and ritual cleansing was for centuries a hub of social, religious, and even political activity. Today, hamam remains a large part of the culture.
Most Turkish bath houses will give you the option to choose between self-service or the traditional style. Though self-service, which allows you to bathe yourself, may be the go-to choice for those who fear being unclothed in front of a stranger, to avoid the traditional style would be to miss the true experience of the historic practice. In the traditional style, an attendant will wash and massage you with a hand-woven cloth. Afterward, you are taken to layout and relax on a hot slab of marble called a gobektasi and allowed to remain there as long as you’d like.
Where to find it:
Hammam is practiced throughout Turkey, though many spas in Europe offer variants of the practice under the same name. The practice of hamam is difficult to find in the United States, but a handful of specialized spas do offer it.