Hammam

KLAFS ABC of well-being

Hammam originated during the Ottoman Empire. It consists of two areas: one for sweating and cleansing (60-90 mins) and a relaxation area (60-90 mins). Taking a hammam is something of a ritual. First you undress and wrap yourself in a towel. You then enter the camekan, a changing room and relaxation area. Often, there is a fountain in this room; the gentle rippling sound helps you to relax both physically and mentally. You then proceed to the sogukluk, a room heated to around 35°C. Each of these rooms contains basins with tempered water, which bathers pour over their arms, legs, chest and back using the small bowls provided. After dousing yourself with warm water from the kurna (basin), you enter the harara (hot room). Here, you begin to perspire freely at a temperature of around 45°C. The rooms also contains recesses which can be even hotter, and some of which may be filled with vapour. In the soaping room, known as the lif, bathers can enjoy an authentic soap lather massage. For this massage, performed by the bath attendant, you lie on a "hot slab "of polished granite (formerly marble). The tellak (attendant) takes a massage glove made of raw silk, goats hair or horsehair, and scrubs your skin until your pores open, and flaky, dead skin is exfoliated. With the aid of a cloth bag, you’re then covered with soapy lather from head to foot before being doused with water to wash away the sweat and flaky skin. Finally, you return to the camekan (changing room and relaxation room). Including the rest phase at the end, the whole procedure lasts for at least 3 hours.