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Legendary Public Baths of Moscow

'Have a Light Steam'

A Russian banya (sauna) is not just a place to bathe, it's a centuries-old place of tradition and various unique, nuanced rituals. In this infographic, we will tell you about the most legendary banyas, the ones that have been welcoming guests for centuries.

The key attributes of a Russian banya are besoms of soft green branches, a sauna specialist, and, last but not least, the steam room itself. The besoms are used for massage and delivering the fragrant, salubrious steam. They are specially prepared from oak or birch branches; sometimes coniferous or eucalyptus branches are also used. To protect one's head from overheating, a woollen hat is worn. Bathing has an important role in the sauna – a pool or a 'barrel' with ice-cold water refreshes the banya goers between sessions. To get an even sharper temperature contrast, one could rub oneself with snow.

When visiting a banya, it is recommended to take advantage of the services of the sauna specialist. Apprentices of the ancient banya craft start learning at a young age, so ever since the days of ancient Rus, the secrets of this trade have been passed down through generations.

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