A Turkish Bath or Turkish Hammam Massage is typically a steam bath done in a public bath house, accompanied with a massage or other body treatment. The Hammam is commonly found in the Islamic world and it’s said to be inspired by the ancient Roman Thermae. Today, Hammam facilities and treatments are found across the world, in Asia, in Europe and in the Americas.
Mind that “Turkish Hammam” is just the common label used for this type of treatment. Depending on the country or region you’ll find names like Tunisian Hammam or Moroccan Hammam, and so on.
The Turkish Bath ritual is a traditional form of therapy or relaxation, a means of social gathering and interchange, and a method of physical and ritual or spiritual cleansing. By the way, in the Islamic world there are separate Hammams for men and women or different opening times according to gender.
The Hammam establishment typically features several rooms: an undressing room, a cold room, a warm room, and a hot room. Clients get undressed (sometimes keeping a loincloth on), and go from one room to another with the goal of gradually inducing an increased perspiration.
The last stage of the treatment is to be washed (and if offered, being massaged) by an equal-gender staff member, and/or bath/wash oneself off with warm water (sometimes cold water) after the complete treatment. Usually afterwards, some time for simply retiring and relaxation, while lying on a bed or mat, is included. The details of the ritual and sequence of steps taken can vary from region to region, and country to country.
The massages given in Turkish Baths are known as vigorous, tough massage treatments that involve a lot of kneading, stretches and joint cracking (Chiropractics), and may use oils, pastes, creams, lotions, and such. One of the special characteristics is the use of a so-called Kese, which is a particularly rough mitt or glove used during the massage to scrub the body with the aim of exfoliation (removing dead skin cells from the body surface).
The massage and exfoliation process may take place on a rather common massage bed or table, or on heated marble beds, depending on the Hammam establishment.