The hammam, or public bath, is an important component of an Islamic town.
It is a social hub, especially for women, and hammams are usually divided into two bathhouses, one for men and one for women. If not, they will have separate entrances for men and women, or they will open at different hours or on different days for men and women.
When you enter the hammam, you'll find a disrobing room, followed by the 'cold' chamber and then the 'warm' area. The massage and cleansing take place in the 'warm' room, while the steam room is the final stop.
How to recognize a hammam
Every town in Morocco has at least one hammam but finding one can be challenging if you don't know Arabic. Locals will gladly assist you in finding one, and you will be welcomed in most of them. There are a few exceptions (typical hammams near the mosque) where foreign guests are not permitted.
A hammam can be identified in a variety of ways, including:
- A guy or woman stenciled on a building's outside wall.
- Passers-by carrying shower supplies, towels, and floor mats
- A smokey odor – hammams use wood fires to heat the water.
- A bakery - If there is a bakery nearby, there is a good chance that there is also a hammam. This is due to the fact that hammams sometimes share heating facilities with communal bakeries.
What to Put On
What should I bring?
What can you expect?
What to stay away from
- Before you sit down in the hammam, have a look at how the water is flowing. You don't want to sit down in a stream of dead skin, thus the hammam floors are slanted for drainage.
- If you use more than two buckets for water, you'll be labeled greedy!
- When rinsing with cold water at the end, be cautious not to spray it on anyone else or they will be less than impressed!
- Don't stare!