The need for ritual purification before prayer and the frequency of prayer, makes the Islamic culture one of the most concerned with bodily hygiene. The thermal culture has been practiced for around 2 thousand years, since Roman times, when these thermal waters were venerated as a worship service, a source of healing and a way of life. This reverence has continued to the modern day.
The Hammam, also known as an Arab bath or Turkish bath, is a form of steam bath which includes cleaning the body and relaxing at the same time. By extension, the buildings in which they were situated and whose structure responded to the different areas required for the bathing process also bear this name.
In reality, the process of taking a Turkish bath is a humid variation of a sauna, although it is more related to Roman bathing practices. Taking a Turkish bath or hammam first requires relaxation in an area known as the tepid room, heated with a continual flow of warm air that allows the bather to breathe freely. Then they move on to a hotter room, known as the hot room, just before submerging themselves in a cold pool. After thoroughly washing their body and receiving a massage, they finally retire to the cooling room for a period of relaxation.
The secret is the black soap or beldi, made with black olive oil and with important natural exfoliating properties. The beldi is applied generously on the body and left to act for 10 minutes. With this, the skin is prepared for intense exfoliation with the black glove or kassa.
You will not usually find mixed public hammams in the Middle East. The largest have separate entrances and rooms for men and women, with some exclusively serving one sex or the other. Others have days of the week for men and other days for women.
But first and foremost, when you enter a hammam, relax and enjoy. It is a unique experience.
In Morocco: If what you want is to revive the spirit of “One Thousand and One Nights” and submerge yourself in an ambiance in true Moroccan style, the best option is to visit the renowned Hammam SPA Mille & Une Nuits in Marrakech.
In Tunisia: In Tunisia we recommend the Hammam El Kachachine which is located in the heart of the medina, in the souk of the booksellers. It is easily recognizable due to its door painted in black, green and red stripes. It is one of the most famous and oldest Turkish baths in the city.
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