The phenomenon of the Turkish bath, or hamam, is almost as old as Turkey itself. It has its roots in the importance for cleanliness in Muslim cultures and draws equally from Roman and Byzantine bathing traditions. Nowadays, we tend to think of the hamam as an indulgent spa treatment where you’re scrubbed within an inch of your hide in a steaming hot sauna room, but it also holds a vital role in everyday Turkish life. The Turkish hamam is a space where Turks of all walks of life congregate to trade gossip or discuss the day’s big issues. It also retains a ceremonial role in events surrounding births, marriages and deaths.