A Turkish bath, also known as a hammam, is a traditional and popular form of bathing that originated in the Ottoman Empire.
The hammam is a central part of the cultural heritage in Turkey and is an essential aspect of the Turkish way of life.
The Ottoman Turks’ conquest of Constantinople from the Romans in the 15th century gave rise to the Turkish bath in its present form.
Then, the Turkish bath, as we know it today, was created when two old bathing customs—the Roman and Turkish baths – met and combined.
Turkish baths are now available at many spas and health centers across the world, but it is ideal to enjoy this at an authentic location.
The hammam experience is not just about getting clean but also about relaxation, socializing, and rejuvenation.
Modesty and Dress Code: What to Wear and What to Avoid in a Hammam?
When visiting a Turkish bath, it is important to know what to wear to make the most out of your experience.
Traditionally, people would go to the Turkish bath completely naked and would use the pestemal as a cover-up.
However, this is not the case in many modern Turkish baths or hammams, where people usually wear a swimsuit or bikini, and some hammams have stricter dress codes and may require full coverage of the body.
When it comes to what to wear in a Turkish bath, it is important to keep in mind that the hammam is a communal space where people come to relax and socialize.
Therefore, it is important to dress modestly and respect the customs and traditions of the hammam.
The Traditional Attire: The Pestemal and its Role in a Turkish Bath
The traditional attire for a Turkish bath is a simple cotton garment known as a pestemal or fouta.
This is a lightweight, absorbent, and quick-drying towel that can be wrapped around the body.
The pestemal is typically made of cotton or linen and comes in a variety of colors and patterns.
It is worn by both men and women and is a convenient and practical choice for the hammam.
The pestemal can be used as a towel to dry off after bathing, and it can also be used as a cover-up while walking around the hammam.
For women, it is also common to wear a one-piece swimsuit or bikini.
However, it is worth noting that some hammams may have stricter dress codes and may require full coverage of the body.
It is always best to check with the hammam beforehand and to dress modestly.
This means that you should avoid wearing revealing clothing such as a thong bikini or a bikini with deep cleavage.
It is also important to bring a cover-up such as a sarong or a large scarf to wear over your swimsuit when walking around the hammam.
For men, it is best to wear a pair of shorts or swim trunks.
Again, it is best to check with the hammam for any dress codes or restrictions.
You should avoid wearing revealing clothing such as speedos or overly short shorts.
It is also important to bring a towel or a pestemal to wrap around your waist when walking around the hammam.
Accessories and Personal Items
It is also important to bring a pair of flip-flops or sandals to wear while walking around the hammam.
The floors can be wet and slippery, and it is best to have a pair of shoes that can be easily removed.
These shoes should be comfortable and easy to slip on and off as you will be asked to take them off before entering the hammam.
You should also have a scrub (kese) and a sponge (sünger), both of which are fantastic swimming accessories to buy in Turkey.
For the scrub down offered in Turkish baths, a particular kind of scrubbing material works best, therefore in order to have the finest experience, you should pay attention to the vendor’s recommendations regarding which particular one to buy.
When it comes to accessories, it is best to keep it simple.
Avoid wearing jewelry or other items that could get lost or damaged in the hammam.
You should also avoid wearing hats or other headwear as they can become quite warm in the hot room.
In addition to clothing, it is also recommended to bring a few other items to the hammam.
A small bag or tote can be useful to carry your personal belongings and any items you may need during your visit.
This can include a water bottle, a small towel, and any personal hygiene items such as shampoo or soap.
Although certain hamams allow you to buy soaps, you should also bring your own.
Natural soap made from olive oil is always the best choice, regardless of the situation.
You should also bring a large, fluffy towel so you may use it to completely dry off afterward.
Some of the additional tips to make your visit to Turkish bath more comfortable:
It is recommended to bring a change of clothes for after the hammam experience.
Loose, comfortable clothing made from natural fabrics such as cotton or linen is ideal, as it will allow your skin to breathe and continue to cool down after the heat of the hammam.
Avoid wearing tight or restrictive clothing, as it can become uncomfortable in the heat and steam of the hammam.
It’s important to be mindful of the season and the temperature of the hammam, if it is cold outside then you may want to wear a light sweater or a hoodie over your swimsuit.
Preparing for the Heat
Once you have arrived at the hammam, you will be given a locker or cubby to store your belongings.
You will then proceed to the changing room where you can disrobe and wrap yourself in the pestemal.
The hammam experience begins with a period of relaxation in a warm room, typically referred to as the “hot room”.
This is where you will spend the majority of your time, relaxing and letting the heat and steam work their magic on your body.
It is best to stay hydrated during this time, so be sure to drink plenty of water.
There is no better time of year to take a Turkish bath than right now when the weather is cooler and summer is done.
The experience will not only warm you to the core, but it is also a wonderful way to detox.
Although the hamam’s interior is undoubtedly warm, it’s not oppressive or overbearing like some steam rooms in contemporary spas may be.
Once in the hot room, spend some time relaxing and sweating on the heated marble slab.
If you feel warm, you can just douse yourself in cold water from your own sink and pass an hour or two without leaving the room.
Don’t forget to make use of the various stations and services offered, such as a full-body wash and massage.
In the past, men and women have both used hamams, but never simultaneously.
For the most part, there will be specified times of the day or even distinct days for men and women, respectively.
The whole staff, including those who provide the massages and scrubbing, will only be people of the same sex as the bathers.
After the Hammam: Recommendations for Post-Experience
After a period of relaxation, you will be invited to take a traditional Turkish bath, or “göbek taşı”.
This is where you will be scrubbed and massaged by an attendant, who will use a variety of soaps and scrubs to clean and exfoliate your skin.
The göbek taşı is an essential part of the hammam experience, and it is considered to be therapeutic and rejuvenating.
Once you have completed the göbek taşı, you will be given a bucket of warm water to rinse off and a small towel to dry yourself.
You can then return to the hot room to relax and enjoy the remaining time at the hammam.
In conclusion, when visiting a Turkish bath, it is important to dress modestly and respect the customs and traditions of the hammam.
Avoid wearing revealing clothing and bring a cover-up, a towel or pestemal, and a pair of flip-flops or sandals.
It is also important to keep in mind that the hammam is a communal space where people come to relax and socialize, so it is best to keep accessories to a minimum.
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