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If you search Turkish bath vs Moroccan bath you will see both of them on most bucket lists when visiting these countries. You can tell a Turkish bath and a Moroccan bath come with their own bathing traditions, but what’s the difference between a Moroccan and a Turkish bath? At first glance, they might seem similar, but if you dig a little bit deeper there are noticeable differences between the two.

In a Moroccan bath, you might see clay treatments and scalp massages, on the other hand in a Turkish bath, heat therapy, and body massage are more pronounced. There are more differences to see, but one of the main similarities is that both of these methods have been around for centuries and are pretty popular in their respective countries and around the world.

So, let’s read this article and find out more about the two most popular types of bath in the Middle East & North Africa. 

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A MOROCCAN AND A TURKISH BATH?

Great question! Of course, there are similarities in these historic hammams, but there are huge differences as well. The main similarity is both these traditional bathing and massage treatments happen in a public bath. Even though public these hammam bathhouses provide you with a tranquil atmosphere so you can relax and enjoy being clean and getting in touch with your inner peace. But enough about similarities let’s see the differences.

  • Design and architecture
  • Bathing rituals
  • Cultural significance
  • Products used
  • Clothing
  • Gender separation

Now, with a hot steam bath, we will let these differences open up so you can see them.

Turkish hammam, turkish bath
Moroccan Hammam, moroccan bath

Design and architecture

The main difference between a Turkish bath and a Moroccan bath that you would see when you walk into one of these bathhouses is the architecture and design.

A Turkish hammam has a main chamber that is domed. In this main domed hammam chamber, there are many basins, usually made out of marble like the rest of the room. In the middle of this domed chamber, there is a heated platform with a marble slab on which you can lie down and relax.

Moroccan hammams, on the other hand, conclude with three main rooms including a hot room, a warm room, and a cool room. These rooms are mainly made out of materials that have a more earthy tone and color. The main rooms might also be referred to as a dry room and a steam room as well.

Bathing rituals

Turkish and Moroccan cultures are both very rich and it shows in their bathing rituals too. With the Moroccan bath, there is more focus on detoxification and scrubbing, whereas, in a Turkish bath, the main focus is cleansing with water and relaxation by submerging in hot and cold pools.

In a Moroccan bath, after getting accustomed to the heat of the hammam the patron will slather your body with black soap which is a mix of olive paste, olive oil, argan oil, and other essential oils. After being rinsed off with warm water you will receive a massage treatment with massage oils to further moisturize your skin.

In a Turkish bath, you first enter a hot room so your body gets accustomed to the heat and prepares for the bathing rituals. After this, the bath attendant will scrub your entire body and then lather you up using a kese* and natural soap. Lastly, you will be rinsed with cool water and move to the cool-down room to relax.

Çatma Mescit Hamamı dictionary
*Kese /kese/: a special bath glove that is a bit rough and can be used for exfoliating your skin

cultural significance

As we mentioned Moroccan and Turkish cultures are both super enriched and it spills into bathhouses as well. To put it clearly, public bathhouses were traditionally a place to socialize and maybe even gossip. This still stands true with most traditional Turkish hammams. So, as part of the cleaning ritual, there is also making connections too.

Moroccan hammams have almost the same socializing part as well accompanied by some hot tea to spill. In some very traditional Moroccan bathhouses, Moroccan women might play some music on the bath buckets and dance too!

Products used

When it comes to products used in a traditional hammam, the Turkish bath vs Moroccan bath has something to say.

What makes the Moroccan hammam experience different is a special soap mixture that is used to clean and exfoliate* your skin. This soap is black and it’s called savon beldi. This traditional gel-like soap is made out of olive paste, olive oil, argan oil, and some essential oils. While this soap sits on your skin, it moisturizes and gives your skin a gentle exfoliation as well.

Çatma Mescit Hamamı dictionary
*Exfoliate: (eks-ˈfō-lē-ˌāt) to remove dead skin cells from the outer layer of your skin.

In Turkish Hamam, it is pretty similar, as for using natural soaps, and there is exfoliating involved as well. Natural soaps such as olive oil are used to clean your body using a kese glove. When your body is fully cleaned you will receive a body massage from the bath attendant.

Clothing

In regards to clothing, Turkish baths vs Moroccan baths have pretty much the same outcome. It is up to you to choose whether you want to be completely naked or to be wearing your underwear. Some people might even opt for wearing a bathing suit or just bikini bottoms. The difference is in your bath attendant or patrons.

In Turkish public baths, the patrons usually wear a piece of cloth that can be wrapped around the waist and it is called peştemal (peshtemal). But that is usually not the case in Moroccan hammams. In Moroccan hammams, the patrons are usually naked or wearing disposable underwear provided by the bath house.

Gender separation

Both in Turkey and Morocco due to the cultural influence and bath culture, there are no mixed hammams. The public hammams are separated based on gender. So, if you are looking to have an authentic experience of a hammam bathhouse with your significant other it might be impossible.

In both Turkey and Morocco, there are hammam buildings completely separate from each other for men and women. But sometimes you might come across hammam buildings that serve men and women on different days of the week. So, it is best to check beforehand you make an appointment to make sure you are going on the right day of the week.

So, as you have read in this article going to either Turkish bath vs Moroccan bath is not just about getting a body scrub or ending up with a squeaky clean body. It is definitely about reaching tranquillity.

Now with all this said, if you are visiting Turkey and are looking for a great Turkish bath experience contact us!

Resources:

(1) Kamal Raftani and Hassan Radoine, The Architecture of the Hammāms of Fez, MoroccArchnet-IJAR, International Journal of Architectural Research – Volume 2 – Issue 3 – November 2008