Visit a Russian banya, feel like a new man!

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For some the notion of ‘banya’ sounds totally unfamiliar, while others think it is just a Russian word for a sauna. However, banya and sauna are two different things. Besides, for Russians a banya is a symbol of health, purification, joy of body and soul. So what are the secrets of the banya, secret power of its popularity, that beckon partakers over and over again?IMG_2528

 The banya tradition began millennia ago, when civilizations recognized the sauna was more than simply a place to cleanse the body. Since ancient times the banya has been recognized as a special therapeutics, something sacred even, a place to purify body and soul, something bringing together the four essential elements:  fire, water, air and soil. Thus, someone who used the banya therapy absorbed the powers of all those elements to promote strength, stamina, and toughness. Those who have experienced a Russian banya feel the rejuvenating powers immediately, and thereafter.

 Russians honored banya throughout the history. All major life events like birth, wedding, or recovery after a severe disease were closely connected with banya or even happened in it. Newlyweds were to go to a banya before their wedding day and the day after it. In the past it was a common belief that banya purifies one’s soul more than it cleanses the body. Women delivered babies in banyas owing to spiritual reasons on the one hand and to purely hygienic ones on the other.

The Russian banya is one of the most ancient in the world. In the Russian oral folk arts there are records of the banya dating back to the times when the Slavic people could not even write. Probably the Slavs praised the banya so much because they were pagans, for whom it was a kind of a sanctuary to deal with such elements as water and fire. IMG_2526

The Russian banya frequently shocks strangers with the tradition of hitting each other with a bunch of twigs. In the past foreigners felt horrified when invited to a banya, for they thought they would be tortured there, but they never regretted it afterwards. The impression was so strong that the health-improving effect of the Russian banya spread all over the world. Today banya visits are frequently included into travel itineraries, and Russian businessmen inviting foreign partners for negotiations always plan a couple of hours for a banya as a special treat demonstrating their utter respect towards their visitors.

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In the past a banya was a small wooden house with a tiny window under the ceiling. The gaps between the logs were sealed with resin and moss. In the corner a stone oven stood to heat the place by burning birch chucks. There was a barrel or a tub with water, too. After the stones became hot, the fire was put out and water was poured over them, which filled the space with hot steam. Then the bunch started its work.

Today the banya tradition is coming to life again. The banya is a symbol of health and vigour again. Connoisseurs are studying ancient scripts to recollect the traditions of the banya massage, oiling, relaxing, drinking herbal tea not spirits. Families and old friends often use banyas for reunions. Ladies tend to organize hen parties there sharing their beauty secrets, honeying each other and gossiping, while gentlemen test their self-control trying to stay in the hot room as long as possible. And what can be better that diving into snow or icy water after the hot bath and the bunch massage?

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As a banya of one’s own is still a luxury accessible only for house owners, it offers a vast space of business opportunities. In Novosibirsk you can choose from loads of banyas, with only several of them presented in the list below.

In Kedrov (http://www.banikedrov.ru/) enjoy a cold swimming pool outside after the hot room. As the name suggests, everything is built of cedar there.

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In Kupalo http://kupalo.su/ located in the outskirts next to the forest choose one of four various hot rooms: cedar, alder, linen or aspen. Besides, here you can order the services of a professional bathhouse attendant, who is an expert in ancient steaming practices, or even a special program including oiling, massage and steaming. A pot of herbal tea, natural honey from Altai mountains and a plate of bread rings is a present for dear guests.

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Emelya http://www.banya-emelya.ru/ is located nearly in the downtown, but you will forget all the hectic and troubles of the big city life jumping into the pond after steaming and sweating in the hot room. 

In Zhikharka http://жыхарка.рф/ you can have all the mentioned pleasures plus the tea ceremony served in the big yard surrounded by the high fence protecting you from all sounds of the big city.

In Wellness Center Mira www.miracentr.ru a visitor lives through the whole variety of national hot baths, the Russian banya being only one of them.

Greenwood Spa Center http://spa-greenwood.ru/ offers various wellness opportunities including a banya. Located in the pine forest by the riverside, the banya in this VIP center will make you forget all your worries and problems. As one of the most expensive SPA centers in Novosibirsk, this place offers exclusive services you will enjoy in solemn solitude.

The restaurant of the northern Russian cuisine Expedition http://www.expedicia-nsk.ru/ has the banya inside the place. After the bunch massage executed by an experienced attendant you relax in a real haystack and enjoy herbal tea. The banya space is alcohol-free, but you can enjoy the nosh-up in the restaurant after it.

Unfortunately all the websites are in Russian only. you can look at pictures and enjoy them. If you have a question, feel free to contact me, I will be happy to help you.

This is but a limited list of banyas in Novosibirsk. There are plenty of Finnish saunas and Turkish hammams, too, but after you’ve tried the Russian banya at least once, you will never exchange it for any other hot bath type.

2 Responses to Visit a Russian banya, feel like a new man!

  1. Elly Vincken:

    Goodmorning, I am from the Netherlands. My Russian is very bad. Is there an englisch website I can visit. I am very interested invisiting.

    • Olja:

      Hello! Unfortunately all the mentioned websites are in Russian only. If you are interested in something in particular, feel free to contact me, and I’ll try to give you a detailed answer.

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