Throughout history tulips have been a symbol of the Ottoman Empire and Istanbul. But why tulips and why were they so important?
The History Behind The Tulip
The Turkish empires and especially the Ottomans tired to beautify the city that they were living in. The Ottomans, Sultans and the people were very passionate about the cities beauty and they cared for the happiness of their people. They built special parks and gardens in Istanbul and in the other important cities. The most important flowers that grew in the gardens of Istanbul are tulips, roses, daffodils and carnations. The reason why the tulip was so important to the Ottomans is when it’s written in Arabic ( ﻻ ﻟﻪ ), it contains all the letters in Allah ( ﷲ ) and the word itself has a resemblance with a tulip. That’s why the Tulip was sacred for the people in the Ottoman Empire.
Tulips carry a cultural importance as well. Above all the facts in its era the tulip was seen as ‘fashion’ by the common people and by the palace. Tulips have been subject to poems, stories and imperial orders because it holds a mirror to the day to day lifestyle of its time. The period between 1718 and 1730 is called the “Tulip Era” in the Ottoman Empire, under the reign of Sultan Ahmed the 3rd. This period is also expressed as an era of peace and entertainment. This also shows the importance that the Ottomans gave to beauty and art.
Istanbul Tulip Festival
To keep the tradition going there is a tulip festival in Istanbul every year during April. Because the tulip is a delicate flower it only blooms for a month. From the beginning of April until the end you can see tulips in every corner of the city it’s one of the best months to come and visit Istanbul. There are many activities to do during the festival (live music, painting, marbling, photo exhibitions etc.) and you can get to know more about the history and the city. During the Istanbul Tulip Festival don’t forget to visit Emirgan Park (known as Emirgan Groves) which is located in Sariyer. It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul and has several tulip gardens. The other parks you can visit during the Tulip festival in Istanbul are Goztepe Park (Asian side, Caddebostan), Gulhane Park and Yildiz Park. The last but most importantly you should visit Sultanahmet Square during the festival, it’s one of the best places to be.