Thursday, April 10, 2008

Flower of Fire

Tulips, indispensable flowers of Istanbul,
began to bloom:)

The Bosphorus Bridge and the Tulip
Awarded Tulip Photo of year 2007,
by Turkish photographer Feryal Guler

The tulip (Turkish: Lale) has always been a favorite of mine. A very important flower also for Turkish culture. And most importantly, it is the official symbol for the country Turkey.

Tulip has been a source of controversy. The story of tulip begins in the Ottoman capital, after which a brief but prosperous and peaceful period of the 18th century in Ottoman history is named, is one of the pleasure, luxury, heartbreak and death. Although the tulip is mostly associated with the Netherlands, before the tulip ever reached to Europe, they enjoyed a long and rich cultural history here on Turkish land. Even though the botanical origins of the tulip are not exactly known, most experts agree they originated thousands of years ago in an area stretching along 40-degrees latitude between northern China and southern Europe.

In the Turkish history, we obviously see that Tulip played an interesting role. Long before Europe heard about this new exotic flower, in the glorious days of the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Suleiman I, the Lawgiver Kanuni in the early 16th century the tulip was becoming a prominent object of interest for artists, and a favorite to decorate imperial yards and gardens. In his time, tulips became highly cultivated blooms, developed for the pleasure of sultan and his entourage.

The tulip varieties which are used to plant in Istanbul are:

The first tulipmania of this showy flower occured in the 18th century. The tulip reigned supreme and became a symbol of wealth and prestige, and the period later became known as the Tulip Era (Turkish: Lale Devri), expressed as an era of peace and enjoyment. A complete craze about tulips among the royalty and the nobility was the most significant feature of the time. With this period, Tulips became an important style of life from the arts -see my Art of Marbling (Turkish: Ebru) below, Red Tulip, I am an Ebru artist by the way:)-, folklore to the daily life. Many embroidery and textile clothing handmade by woman, carpets, tiles, ceramics, miniature, poetry, even life itself had tulip designs or shapes. Large tulip gardens around the Golden Horn were frequented by upscale people. Briefly, it was a period of arts, culture and architecture, and relatively peaceful period when the first Westernization attempts started in the Ottoman Empire. The tulip era lasted from 1718 to 1730. It come to an end after the Patrona Halil Revolt in 1730.

My 'Red Tulip' Decorative Artwork
made with L'Arte Ebru
(Traditional Turkish Marbling Art)

Actually in the 16th century they were brought to the Netherlands from Turkey, and quickly became widely popular. If we look today, tulips are cultivated in Holland in great numbers and in huge fields. Dutch bulbs, including tulips and daffodils, are exported all around the world, so people thinks that the Tulip is originated from the Netherlands as well;)

In fact, many cultivated varieties were widely grown in Turkey long before they were introduced to European gardens.

Now that Spring is in full bloom, and it holds a very special meaning for us Istanbulities. It's the 3rd International Istanbul Tulip Festival between Apr 5-13, 2008 and delights our pathways with over 8.5 million tulips planted around the City! Here is Yildiz Park, and gorgeous Tulips...

The campaign themed as Istanbul reunities with its Tulip launched by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality beginning year 2005 in order to bring the tulip back to its motherland, and it is a radical landscaping revolution. Because it dramatically improved the look of the city giving a spirit of vitality and energy it has not seen in decades. Here is the giant lovely Tulip figures decorating Taxim Square:

Now-a-days the Tulips greet us everywhere we go -parks, gardens, streets, squares and along the roads. With their incredible variety of colors, heights and shapes, tulips are pivotal in beautifying Istanbul! Millions of tulip bulbs are being distributed to us being city's residents, and the tulips that herald spring in all the city's parks are certainly a colorful reminder of its past glory.

Here is Emirgan Grove, located on European side of the City. It's famous for three-pavilions that were built in 19th century. The following is White Pavilion with superb surrounding. A real heaven of Tulips gardens! One of my top favorite gardens in the City. Lets make a tour inside now:)

There are many activities in this year's Festival: The Most Beautiful 100 Tulips Photo competition, souvenir stands related to Tulip Festival concept at Taxim Square, Tulips sculpture and Design exhibitions at Kiosks and Pavilions, The Reflections of Tulip Exhibition at Topkapi Palace, Tulips Painting Exhibitions from famous Turkish Painters at Yildiz Palace, and concerts of different performers everyday between 11:00 to 19:30 at Taxim Square, Emirgan Park, Ortakoy Square, Bagdat Street and Goztepe Park -where I live in-.

A beautiful element of landscaping, symbolizing our yearning
for a civilization that lasted several centuries, the tulip today is merely a beautiful flower that grows in Istanbul....

Which flower is indispensable to your city?


  1. bugün okuldan dönerken laleler okadar güzel göründü ki gözü de seni düşündüm kesin bir post yazarsın diye düşündüm:)) tahminimde de yanıltmadın beni:) sevgiler istanbul yaşanası şehir yaa..

  2. Here, in my garden tulips are beginning to bloom, too. But I "envy" you for living in a wonderful city, where one of my favorites flower has a festival. I hope to be there in a spring to feel the energy of these noble and gracious flowers.
    Hugs, Sma

  3. I live in a small village and we don't have a flower as a symbol, yet. I seriously think to organise here, in my garden a feast for roses,as our little business is called "House of Roses". Maybe someday, our citizens will embrace this idea like a feast for all our village. I hope so:).

  4. Such a dazzling display of tulips. It must be a pleasure to walk through these gardens.

    We don't have a city flower but the California Poppy is showing up everywhere along with Lupin (these are both wildflowers.


  5. @ Iz: Ne tatli bir yorum, cok tesekkurler:) Aynen ben de senin gibiyim, gelip gecerken heryanimiz dogal olarak 'lale' dolu bugunlerde, buyulenmemek elde degil ki, cunku binbir cesidi ekili durumda guzel Sehrimize. Ve doyurucu bir yazi yazmam icin ilham oldu diyebilirim. Tabiiki sadece 'guzel lale' deyip gecemezdim, LOL;) Farkindaysan onemli de bir konu:) Artik beni ve ne yazacagimi iyi tahmin eden harika bir okurum var, ne keyif verici. Derslerine oncelik verdikten sonra, herzaman beni de okumaya bekliyorum, OK? Sevgiler ve 'lale tilsimi' senle olsun, Iz:)

  6. Thank you so much for sharing this flower's history, and the history of your country. It's a place that I would love to visit - I've heard it is very beautiful there...and finding out about the flowers is a bonus!!! I was a florist, and my love for flowers is great.

    Thank you again,

    Cherri (I'll be happy to sign your books for you)

  7. beautiful and so colourful nihal...we have tulips here too, plastic ones and sometimes once a year, some real ones that cost USD5 per i love the tulips!!

  8. Thanks so much for visiting my page Nihal and leaving your lovely comment. I love the pictures of the tulips you have here. I had no idea that there were Tulips in Turkey! I would love to visit Turkey one day. Here where I live in the rural countryside of Britain right now we are in early spring and the banks by the laneways are full of primoses and polyanthus, very beautiful, but my climbing roses in my garden here at Oak Cottage are starting to get buds and soon will be blooming as well as the Wisteria and the clematis. I shall be back. You have a very interesting journal here!

  9. Hello...

    Thank you so much for your visit and beautiful comments you left. I knew from reading your lovely words I had to visit right away, and I am so glad I did! What a beautiful place you have here...lovely indeed! The tulips are just beautiful. I love flowers, and tulips just happen to be one of my favorites. Thank you so much for sharing them. You have a beautiful weekend.



  10. WOW!!!Thanks for this informative post about tulips,Nihal!

    I´ll keep the date in mind so that when i have a chance to go to Istanbul,i´ll come in the spring festival of tulips.

    Enjoy and have a great week end!


  11. bellissimi questi tulipani......
    io adoro quelli bianchi!!!!!!
    ti abbraccio Bea.

  12. Wow, what beautiful photo's and a pretty place to live! I love tulips, they are my all time favourite flower, so this post was very interesting to me. Thank you for visiting my blog, and taking the time to leave a comment. I really appreciate that, and have enjoyed meeting you! Have a wonderful weekend.
    Amanda (aka Cottage Contessa)

  13. I love all the tulips you show us. In The Netherlands we have a lot of tulips but not a tulip festival.

  14. Hi Nihal, after seeing the amount of work on this blog during last week, it's no wonder you have been busy. And it makes me feel so happy that I had so much work to do; nothing compared though... ;)
    Now, the wonderful tulip post; look at the fantastic pictures and at what one learns. If one was thinking of a sea trip from China to the Netherlands via Lisbon to bring the tulips, he must reconsider: the «lale» was, as you put it, «widely grown in Turkey long before they were introduced to European gardens»... So, watch the Turkish festival, but don't forget that Keukenhof is «the» place for tulips... ;))
    (Emirgan Grove must have been under snow when I was in Istanbul; didn't hear about, but definitely should...)
    Loved to see your Mallaca photos, though the Museum didn't have a fair description of the Portuguese, I believe... ;)
    Have a great weekend!

  15. lovely laleh...
    reuniting turkey and the netherlands like brother and sister!

  16. i tuoi tulipani mi donano tanta gioia con i loro colori e la loro bellezza.
    il post sulla mano è meraviglioso e molto coinvolgente.
    grazie per la poesia che non conoscevo.
    ciao ciao

  17. ~ I just wanted to take a moment to say "Hello, and welcome" to a standout group of newly arriving readers; Cherri, Marie, Beverly and Amanda. I really enjoyed with your visits, and your xtra-kind compliments as bonus:) Thank Y'ALL! ~

    Reading each one of your comments as beautiful as a 'Tulip', I see that;

    * Everyone loves the tulips, so cool:)
    * A range of flowers, which are indispensable for some countries, i.e. lovely Bluebonnets for Texas:)

    @ Gil: Yep, I've been to the Netherlands, and visited many parts of the country plus Keukenhof as well. Let me tell the Dutch are renowned for their flower bulbs, particularly tulips. This reputation is well earned because Holland has worked a lot more than us, Turkey:) Now our Gov't takes serious steps moving forward in order to bring the tulip back to its motherland=Turkey:) A radical revolution.

    You know beyond their prominence, there are some flowers and plants which have played both symbolic and tangible roles since prehistory for some countries like our National flower 'Tulip' in Turkish history from Ottoman Empire times:)