No trip to Fethiye is complete without a visit to a Turkish bath or Hamam, so set aside any prudishness you may have and take the plunge. Savour that feeling of supreme cleanliness that is so different from a Western bath or shower.

The Turkish bath or Hamam, meaning ‘spreader of warmth’, dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It was a place for social gathering and the ritual cleansing related to the Muslim faith. Historically, mothers also visited hamams to find possible brides for their sons.

Jean Jacques Francoise Lebarrier’s A Female Turkish Hammam

Click here for more information about the history of the Hamam

His, hers and unisex

Hamams usually have separate sections for men and women as Islam preaches modesty in relations between adult men and women. Some hamams in tourist areas offer unisex sessions so couples or mixed groups can enjoy the experience together.

Although many hotels now have hamams, the traditional ones are found in the narrow streets of a town’s old areas and Fethiye is no exception.

The Old Turkish Bath

Fethiye’s Old Turkish Bath is located in the Old Town (Paspatur). It was built, together with the Old Mosque nearby, in the 16th century by Yavuz Sultan Selim.

The Old Turkish Bath in Paspatur

Get ready

When you arrive you’ll be given a peştemal, a woven cloth that is used to cover the body in the hamam. They are quite small so you may want to wear a swimsuit too. You will also be given a pair of bathing clogs, nalın, to wear.

Peştemal and nalın

Once you’re changed you’ll enter the inner sanctum, the hararet, where you’ll work your way from warm temperatures to hot and steamy.

Steam

Prostrate yourself on the göbek taşı, the hot central marble slab, and allow the heat to penetrate your pores.

Photograph courtesy of the Istanbul Insider

Wash and massage

Now you’re ready for the tellak (masseur) who will soap you up and rub you down with a kese (horse hair flannel) giving you a very thorough exfoliation. You won’t believe the amount of dead skin you’ll shed!

Photograph courtesy of the Old Turkish Bath, Paspatur

Next you will be kneaded and your limbs manipulated to loosen tight muscles and joints.

Relax

Afterwards, wash yourself down, wrap yourself in towels and rest in the relaxation area with a glass of the always present, çay.

You’ll emerge feeling clean, glowing, and happy to have taken the plunge and experienced one of Turkey’s age-old traditions.

A word of warning

Although a hamam is a great way to prepare your skin for a long lasting suntan, it’s not advised if you are sunburned – and alway wear high factor sun protection.

 

 

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