Turkish Hamam – Ancient Wellness
The Turkish hamam tradition dates back to the days of Romans and Byzantine emperors. Heated baths and steam therapy have been recognized for their therapeutic benefits for centuries.
The typical Turkish hamam today is mostly inspired by the Ottoman era, when sultans built magnificent bathing palaces for the court. At a less opulent level, municipalities built well-appointed premises for religious and hygienic purposes, allowing ordinary people to bathe and restore themselves.
A visit to a Turkish hamam is a wellness experience that everyone should have if they can!
The Black Sea Coffee Scrub
On the Black Sea coast of Turkey, coffee scrubs can be found in some traditional Turkish hamams. The effects are exhilarating and definitely worth the effort of getting there
The practice of therapeutic bathing (balneotherapy) in the Turkish and Black Sea region is colourful and well-entrenched.
This area has been home to the Pontic Kings, then the Romans, Byzantines, Seljuks and Ottomans – each bringing their own traditional knowledge to the art of bodycare
Whilst a Black Sea coffee scrub sounds exotic, it does beg the question: Is coffee good for your skin?
We went on a wellbeing adventure to find out
Conventional wisdom might tell us no. Whilst exfoliation is great for cell renewal and circulation, using anything too harsh on the skin is never recommended.
Coffee is typically ground to a powder, but the grain is often large. The effects therefore can be abrasive, which is the opposite of what should be achieved
What is more, the astringent qualities of the coffee bean can dry the skin, preventing therapeutic oils from being properly absorbed.
Coffee, however, has both astringent and bitter qualities. According to Ayurvedic medicine, both these properties help both the phytochemicals contained within the coffee and the carrier oil penetrate more deeply into the skin
Using powders for massage is not new. In India, an entire branch of therapy incorporates the use of medicinal herbs and powders to generate beneficial results.
Therefore, in the right hands, and with the right mix of ingredients, it can be the perfect elixir.
Your skin ends up soft, hydrated and supple. The secret is in the blend.
Importantly, the Turkish hamam provides a warm and humid environment for the treatment, which makes all the difference.
The Eight Pillars Turkish Hamam
In the port city of Trabzon on Turkey’s Black Sea coast, the coffee scrubs are on a level far beyond the usual concoction offered at a regular day spa.
The Eight Pillars Turkish Hamam (Sekiz Direkli Hamam) is closest to the port, and is the oldest in the city. The hamam is thought to have been built in the 11th century by the Seljuks.
All that remains today of the original structure are the eight central pillars which support the main bathing area, giving the hamam its name, elegance and charm.
As anyone who has travelled to Turkey can attest, navigating a Turkish hamam can be tricky
Operating hours are designated by sex. Men can use the Turkish hamam in the afternoon and evening, women in the morning. In the evenings, this place gets very busy. A lot of local men will be getting various treatments, so you may need to be patient and prepared to wait.
Therefore, when you arrive – say yes when they ask if you want massage and first use the sauna.
The attendants will arrange the rest.
You should start with a good twenty minute steam. This raises the body’s core temperature and prepares your skin to shed it outer, mostly dead, layer. Then enjoy the other-worldy atmosphere. You will know your time has come when the attendant comes looking for you
Next the skin is cleaned with a kese, a hand-held mitten made from coarse plant or animal fibres
This removes the dirt and old skin that had accumulated without your even knowing it. Then the whole body is washed with a good quality, natural soap
After that, it’s time for the coffee scrub.
Why come here?
The special ingredients are (of course) a secret, handed down with the passage of time
But you will know it’s all good when the paste feels invigorating but does not scratch you. The rich aroma of coffee is the only thing that should alert you to its presence. You should not feel any dryness.
Once your body has been sufficiently massaged and manipulated, the coffee paste simply washes off
You might think having coffee rubbed from head to toe could leave you feeling a little on edge?
In fact the total opposite is the result.
As muscles relax and release any built up tension, your lymphatic system kicks into gear, effortlessly taking any bad stuff away. The net result? A gentle but effective detox.
Expect to feel both more alert and at the same time wound down. Your circulation improves whilst stress levels plummet. Isn’t that exactly what you want?
Better than a stock-standard body peel, a Black Sea coffee scrub is an excellent inclusion to your wellbeing itinerary.
If you can’t get yours nearby then perhaps a trip to Turkey could be on the cards?
We visited the Sekiz Direkli Hamam in Trabzon, Turkey to find out if the truth was as good as the legend.
The Stars Like You Travel Verdict – 10/10.…. Top notch, pretty clean and inexpensive. All you need is a sense of adventure and a willingness to let yourself be lead.
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I’m a professional astrologer, coach, and Ayurvedic consultant, originally from Australia but now travelling the world. At Stars Like You, the focus is on happiness. We publish great astrology articles, as well as well-researched pieces on nutrition, wellness and Ayurveda drawn from years of clinical experience.