Within the world of relaxation and self-care, hammams are a timeless tradition that dates back to the Roman and Byzantine eras. Initially used for religious purposes to prepare for prayer, hammams became popular throughout the region in the late 1400s and were frequently situated next to mosques and medinas.

The Hammam concept is also present in multiple cultures worldwide, including the Japanese onsen, Russian banya, Turkish hammams, or Native American sweat lodges.

In Middle Eastern and North African cultures, hammams have been a socially and culturally charged staple for ages. Hammams are a reliable place for relaxing, pampering, and even socializing, whether for the women in the family to bond, the bridesmaids to celebrate, or anyone to unwind after a long day.

With that said, we present to you our selection of must-see hammams around the world:

١. An Authentic Turkish Hammam: Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami, Istanbul

Constructed initially by Kilic Ali Pasha, a celebrated Ottoman admiral, between 1578 and 1583, this hammam was intended to serve as a mosque and school. Now, the building is an authentic and gender-inclusive bathing experience, and a lavish one, too, thanks to the stonework and artwork on the ground floor. The hammam is located in Istanbul’s historic harbour district and is a must-visit destination in the up-and-coming Karaköy area, where you can wander around after this experience.

٢. A Moorish Experience: Hammam Al Ándalus in Granada, Spain

The Al Andalus baths in Granada, Andalusia, are an absolute favourite for any hammam fans, with their distinctive red-ish walls. The hammam is housed in an original 13th-century building that exudes an air of timelessness. Its restoration in the Mudejar style is awe-inspiring and reminiscent of the Alhambra, complete with arched entrances, geometric tiles, vaulted ceilings, and stunning stucco plasterwork adorning the walls.

٣. Hot Springs meet Hammam: Ma’in Hot Springs Resort & Spa in Amman, Jordan

Located in the Madaba Governorate, between Madaba and the Dead Sea, the Ma’in Hot Springs are a series of thermal pools which offer communal bathing and magnificent views of the Dead Sea Valley. The pools – abundant with minerals – provide a range of temperatures, allowing visitors to choose their ideal spot for a rejuvenating soak. The water temperature ranges from a balmy 45°C to a scorching 60°C, meandering down the hillside in a sequence of waterfalls and streams.

٤. Luxury meets Authenticity: The Royal Mansour, Marrakech

In Marrakech, the hammam is a customary ritual where visitors can enjoy a communal purification experience while indulging in a rejuvenating scrub, mineral-clay masks, and steam. Although many hotels and riads offer their version of the hammam, the Royal Mansour Marrakech provides an exclusive experience. This luxurious retreat features a celestial space made of white marble and abundant natural light, and a vibrant café and swimming pool.

٥. A Complete Wellness Retreat: Talise Ottoman Spa, Dubai

Jumeirah Zabeel Saray’s Talise Ottoman Spa is a splendid example of a Turkish-style hammam. Taking up over 8,000 square meters, it is one of the largest spas and hammams in the Middle East. Pampering rituals feature luxurious ingredients such as 24-karat gold, Arabian roses, and black olive soap. Three additional Hammams, adorned with immaculate marble, rich woods, and impressive murals, can also be found within the spa. Floating baths, Thai gardens, and adventure showers all add to the spa’s allure.

A hammam that you can visit but is unfortunately not functional.

Ali Gholi Agha Hammam

This historical hammam, commissioned by Ali Gholi Agha, a Safavid Dynasty courtier, is part of a grand complex with a bazaar, mosque, and gym. Its remarkable architecture has been preserved, allowing visitors to witness this ancient bathhouse’s original layout and function. The hammam has been converted into a museum displaying the breathtaking late Safavid-era design of Iran’s 18th-century hammam culture.

Whether in Marrakech or Amman, we hope you will enjoy your next hammam.

Yasmine is a Tunisian-Italian freelance writer based in Amsterdam. Her writings are strongly inspired by her North African upbringing and culture, and her thoughts on identity and diasporic nostalgia. You will mostly find her reporting on societal phenomena in the MENA region, often in relation to digital culture, art, and fashion