Located among the green pines, cedars and lush oak woodlands of the Aurès Mountains lies El Hamma town in the Northern part of Algeria, Khenchela Province. A mild, Mediterranean climate gives it to picturesque sightings of unique natural landscapes. Among them, there is a strange and unique masterpiece – an antique Roman bath that has existed there for 2000 years almost and that is listed as a protected national ancient heritage. It is called Hammam Essalihine (the bath of the noble or warm baths of Flavius) and is still used today even after thousands of years after it was created. It is well Known for its therapeutic benefits. it attracts visitors from all around the world as well.
The fresh air of the mountains (1.500 m or 4921ft above sea level) merged with great ancient Roman architecture and therapeutic virtues of the water of the baths attract almost 700,000 of guests every year.
The waters of Hammam Essalhine spa are known to be pure and remarkably rich in minerals. The water’s temperature is around 70°C (158 °F)and it is supposed to help with rheumatic, dermatological, as well as respiratory diseases. Of course, like any other respectable spa, Hammam Essalhine offers relaxation treatments, massages and even hydrotherapy sessions offered by physiotherapists working there.
Hammam Essalihine has two pools – the rectangular one is created for males and the circular pool is designed for women. The pools are eight meters in diameter and are almost one and a half meters deep. But, despite the place being so popular not only among the locals, but tourists also, it needs good infrastructure, so it is not that easy to get there. But we all know that good thing takes time, right?
What’s most magical about the place, is that even after 2,000 years of earthquakes, political instability, economic struggles and even wars – it still stands proudly and continues the tradition of a daily bathing ritual. The bathhouses are still a very important part of the culture, as they are also used as a social gathering place to discuss the news and matters of importance in a relaxed atmosphere.
Bathing played an important role in ancient Roman culture and society – Back then it was a common daily activity and was practised across a mixture of social classes. Today, we take bathing as a very private and secret activity, but for Romans, it was a shared activity. Built on the natural hot springs, the Roman bathhouses resembled today’s spas – the Romans understood the benefits of mineral-enriched pure water and its impact on one’s health.