The Turkish hamam (also Turkish bath or hamam) is the Middle Eastern variant of a steam bath, which can be categorized as a wet relative of the sauna. They had played an important role in cultures of the Middle-East, serving as places of social gathering, ritual cleansing and as architectural structures, institutions, and (later) elements with special customs attached to them. Europeans learned about the Hamam via contacts with Turkey hence the European name for it: "Turkish" hamam. The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to the bathing practices of the Romans. Taking a Turkish bath firstly involves relaxing in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot dry air allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an ever hotter room (known as the hot room) before splashing themselves with cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation. In Turkey, the advent of modern plumbing systems, showers, and bathtubs in homes caused the importance of hammams to fade in recent times.