Here's How Public Bathing Looks In Nine Countries Around The World
Bathhouse, hamami, jjimjilbang, banya — no matter the term, the art of public bathing has been around for thousands of years across the globe. In some cultures, it represents the importance of taking time to rest and relax — in others it's seen as a chance to socialize and build community. Above all, the goal is to come away feeling centered in mind and body. Here's how public bathing looks in nine different countries around the world:
1. Terme di Saturnia — Saturnia, Italy
As the mythical tale goes, Jupiter hurled a lightning bolt at Saturn during a dangerous duel, and when Saturn dodged it, the bolt crashed to ground, sliced through the earth's crust, and resulted in the hot, healing waters known as Terme di Saturnia, or Spa of Saturn. For thousands of years, visitors have taken a dip in this scenic bath, which sits in a bubbly volcanic crater.
2. Gellért Baths — Budapest, Hungary
Bathing culture in Budapest became so popular by the 20th century that it earned the nickname Spa City in 1934. One of its most beloved bathhouses is Gellért Baths and Spa, which opened in 1919 and houses 13 baths, including two main bath sections, three outdoor pools, and eight thermal baths. It's also decorated with gorgeous mosaics, sculptures, and stained glass windows.
3. Cagaloglu Hamami — Istanbul, Turkey
The final Turkish bathhouse (or "hamami") built under the order of the Ottoman Empire, the grand Cagaloglu Hamami was constructed way back in 1741. It has separate hot rooms for men and women, as well as separate entrances and cooling rooms, plus architectural features like marble fountains and grand domes that have been meticulously maintained over centuries.
4. Takaragawa Onsen — Gunma, Japan
Takaragawa Onsen is possibly the most picturesque spa in Japan, which is saying a lot, because the country is brimming with beautiful hot springs, or "onsen." According to folklore, the waters at this mountainous retreat are even said to have magical healing powers. The spa has three mixed-gender baths and one just for women, all of which have given visitors a place of rest and relaxation since ancient times.
5. Sandunovsky Banya — Moscow, Russia
Founded in 1808, Sanduny Banya is the oldest public bathhouse in Russia — a pretty prestigious title, considering the country's bathhouses have been a major point of pride throughout history. Sanduny is easily the most luxurious in Moscow, and offers several hot steam rooms and ice-cold dunking pools. Each of the elegant bathhouse's eight bathing rooms is decorated in a unique way, influenced by everything from classic Roman style to Russian fairytales.
6. Termas Geometricas — Pucon, Chile
Termas Geometricas is one of the world's largest natural hot springs, located at the heart of Villarica National Park in Chile. A long red wooden walkway connects the site's 20 steamy pools, which rest at the bottom of a canyon surrounded by lush greenery. Termas Geometricas also has two waterfalls that offer some cool relief, and an outdoor fire pit or "fogón."
7. Leukerbad Therme — Leukerbad, Switzerland
The largest thermal spa nestled into the Alps, Leukerbad Therme towers above Switzerland at nearly 5,000 feet above sea level. Guests are able to choose between 10 different thermal baths, which can get pretty steamy, reaching temperatures of 109 degrees. Another impressive figure? The baths cycle through more than a million gallons of bubbling water a day.
8. The Blue Lagoon — Grindavik, Iceland
Chances are you've seen at least three people you follow on Instagram* post a selfie at Iceland's Blue Lagoon, a massive geothermal hot spring that's become one of the country's most popular tourist attractions. Not only does the lagoon's water reach a steamy 102 degrees, but it's also rich in salts, sulfurs, and silica mud, which give the lagoon its famous milky blue color — and give visitors a full-body mineral scrub.
9. The Spa in Garden Five — Seoul, South Korea
Known as jjimjilbangs, Korea's large public bathhouses are typically open 24/7 — so, yes, friends often go and sweat out a hangover after a rowdy night in Seoul. Decked out with hot tubs, showers, traditional kiln saunas, and massage tables, jjimjilbangs are beloved for their ability to increase blood circulation, relax the mind, and cleanse the body. Not to mention, modern ones like the Spa in Garden Five even offer things like restaurants, nail salons, and lounge areas with books and board games.
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