Tulip Festival in Istanbul

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April in Istanbul is tulip time; parks, squares and roadsides all revel in the bright colours of these cup-shaped flowers.

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The word tulip, is believed to derive from the Ottoman Turkish tülbend (“muslin” or “gauze”), and may be ultimately derived from the Persian‎ delband (“turban”).  This etymology may be due to the perceived resemblance between the shape of a tulip flower and that of a turban. Equally, it may date back to the fashion of wearing tulips on turbans in the Ottoman Empire.

Tulips are called lale in Turkish. When written in Arabic letters, “lale” has the same letters as Allah, which is why the flower became a holy symbol.

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The tulip figures frequently in Persian verse, where its red color symbolises the blood of martyrs and the fire of love.  In Turkey, tulips are associated with the delicate refinement and luxury that characterized the Ottoman Empire at the height of its power.

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The month long Tulip festival makes April the perfect month to visit Istanbul: you get the added beauty and colour of the tulips and you also beat the oppressive summer heat.  The complex and magnificent displays in Gülhane Park have to be on your to do list.

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This now public park used to be part of the gardens of the Topkapi Palace and, ironically at this time of year, its name means rosehouse.

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Even at the very end of the month, the displays were still impressive, though as I took one last walk through yesterday morning, they were just getting ready to replant some of the beds.

Linked to Sunday StillsFloral Friday and Today Flowers.
Copyright Debbie Smyth, 30 April 2015aDSC_0636_pp

33 thoughts on “Tulip Festival in Istanbul

  1. These are wonderful shots, Debbie. It’s good to see that tulips are getting special attention in Istanbul, in their “home country” so to speak. We’re always used to associating them with Holland.
    Many thanks for participating in Floral Friday Fotos. Your input is appreciated.


  2. Wonderful set of pics; I especially like the macro shots. We were in Istanbul several years ago and were surprised to hear how important tulips were. However, it was way past their time, but your shots have confirmed what our tour guode related. Thank you!


  3. You can’t go wrong with tulips, I’ll say:):) Love the yellow – blue/purple combination. I have heard that tulip bulbs (for the first time) were imported from Russia…


    1. And they really did look better in real life. Sounds like you need to put Istanbul in your diary for next April!

      On Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 3:28 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:



  4. That’s an unusual subject for symbolism! Thank you for the education. Now I shall have to return to Istanbul a third time to see the tulips! 🙂


    1. That is interesting. Apart from the Turkish words of very obvious French origin, I didn’t come across many words that I could recognise. Lala and lale sound mor beautiful than the harsher tulip.


        1. and the same in Slovak, which I just looked up because I’ll be there on Monday! 🙂

          On Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 11:40 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:



        2. I arrive Sunday late afternoon and leave Tuesday morning for Salzburg. So Monday will be a busy day!

          On Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 11:46 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:



        3. Business 😦 I get a few free hours when I arrive, plus a free evening, the rest is conference and even a conference dinner.

          On Thu, Apr 30, 2015 at 12:00 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:



        4. You don’t need much time to see Bratislava or Salzburg. Well, you can always use more time, but these two towns are manageable.


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