In this article we will differentiate traditional hammam from modern hammam.
In your quest to finding out more about what is exactly a Moroccan hammam, you will likely find that it’s also called Turkish bath, Roman bath, Moroccan steam room or sauna, but hammam is another term meaning bath.
A Moroccan hammam consists of a bathhouse with multiple rooms (dry and steamed) for cleaning the body and soul according to traditional ritual performed by another person.
Bit of history
Historically the first public bath was created by the Roman empire more than 2000 years ago. They allowed citizens to visit local bathhouse to cleanse themselves and keep a good hygiene. The idea caught up with the rest of the world and Morocco were amongst the first one to embrace that way of bathing and even made it a community ritual.
Since religion is an important part of Moroccan’s culture, the first hammam were found near praying center and was almost mandatory before prayer.
Part of the ancient way of visiting a hammam started even before the journey to cleanliness since you had to go to the souk ( street market ) to get your own essential bathing products. In modern days hammam, all is provided by the facilities for you to discover and enjoy.
Growing in popularity amongst the community, the hammam became a gathering point where people of all social class would meet and discuss about anything. Only separated by gender, you could call it the naked truth since the purifying session where done entirely naked and allowed men and women to really be themselves.
Deeply rooted in everyone’s life, it was the central place where major decision were often mad like arranged wedding or business deal. In present days we see more often mixed gender hammam with bathing apparel like in the modern spa and mostly chitchat then deep conversation.
Moroccan Hammam always consists of the following basic rooms:
- Dry hot room to start your journey and get accustom to the heat.
- Hot steamy room to sweat away all body’s impurity.
- Bathing room to get the traditional hammam treatment.
- Resting room to have mint tea and relax.
- Optional massage room to really relieve you of all remaining stress and worry.
The hammam ritual ( now and then )
One of the “must do in Morocco” is now a worldwide should definitely do.
The many benefits of a weekly hammam sessions are well known by eastern community and you can find lots of information on our website.
Tourism guides encourage tourists to visit traditional Moroccan baths as part of their visits to the country. Although hammams in certain communities are still widely used by locals, many of them have been subsumed by vibrant tourist economies that tout “Moroccan Turkish Baths” as part of an authentic tourist experience in the country.
Hotels that cater to Westerners have begun creating their own hammam experience for customers, without the “hassle” of venturing into local cities.
Like the original hammam experience, when visiting those institutions you should expect to indulge on average two to tree hours. The ritual consists of a body, and mind cleansing made by a trained staff. It’s sometimes done by friends doing each other’s in community hammam.
The ritual starts by applying a thin layer of black soup all over your body then after resting for about 5 to 10 minutes it’s followed by rinsing with lots of water. The personnel will scrape all your dead skin from your body with a Kessa glove. You will be amazed by the resulting dead skin left on the tile after the treatment.
In the most luxurious hammam they will end the session by rehydrating your skin with pure essential oil.
What to bring and hammam etiquette
Most of the modern hammam in western cultures are now mixt and people wear bathing suits, so bring your flip-flop, bathrobe and swimming apparel to have a great experience.
In the traditional hammam women brought buckets of water to rinse the body, and wasting water was considered an offence. In modern hammam, water supply is more often a shower directly in the washing room or a cascade of water.
Talking in a spa is usually a no no, but in hammam it is welcome, but just chat in a low pitch voice to maintain the space relatively quiet.
Ending up in style
When the session is over you can relax in the tea room and enjoy Moroccan mint tea while enjoying sandalwood aromatherapy. If you really want to have the summum experience, try aRoyal Massage which consists of a massage done with argan oil to completely relax while rehydrating your skin after the washing treatment.