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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Travel Experiences from the Experts

EVENTS & CUISINE

International Istanbul Tulip Festival

From Burak Sansal, writer of All About Turkey

“Tulips are one of the most intricate flowers around the world. They come in various bright colours and types and decorate parks and gardens. Many people believe that tulips come from Holland, since they cultivate and export them in huge quantities. But the truth is that tulips originated in Central Anatolia and the lands of the Ottoman Empire, a part of modern Turkey today. In fact, the tulip is the symbol of Turkey.

“Around 16th century the tulip bulbs were first taken from the Ottoman Empire by Dutch tradesmen and then introduced into Europe; in the 17th century they became so popular that caused a sort of "Tulipmania", prices were going up day by day at the markets reaching incredible amounts such as a bulb costing as much as a house!

“Tulips were also special in Turkish history. In the 18th century there was an era in the Ottoman Empire called the "Tulip Era", which was expressed as a period of peace and enjoyment. Tulips became an important part of lifestyle in the arts and daily life. Large tulip gardens were built around the Golden Horn and they were frequented by upscale people and artists, poets, writers etc.

“Today this old tradition is enlivened in the streets and parks of Istanbul around April-May each year with the "International Istanbul Tulip Festival". The festival is organized and sponsored by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality during which millions of tulip bulbs are planted all around the city, and they bloom in the second half of April in all colours and shapes creating an incredible visual joy for the locals and visitors.

“The headquarters of the festival is Emirgan Park located along the European shores of the Bosphorus which attracts many locals and families for a lovely stroll in the tulip gardens. During the festival many cultural events are organized, such as art displays, exhibitions, small concerts and so on.”