Friday, March 6, 2015

International Istanbul Tulip Festival, Istanbul, Turkey

In April the annual International Istanbul Tulip Festival (Istanbul Lale Festivali) takes place. This shouldn't be a surprise if you know that — unlike common belief — tulips originated more or less in Turkey.

Every April since 2006, the city government in Istanbul has planted millions of tulips in Istanbul's parks, avenues, traffic roundabouts and...really anywhere there is open ground.

In 2013, the total was 13 million!
The result is a glorious spring flower festival with brilliant splashes of color everywhere you look.

Tulips originally grew wild on the Asian steppes. Although tulips are associated with Holland, commercial cultivation of the tulip or lale (from the Persian word lâhle) began in the Ottoman Empire. The most widely accepted story is that of Oghier Ghislain de Busbecq, Ambassador of Ferdinand I to Suleyman the Magnificent of the Ottoman Empire in 1554. He remarked in a letter that he saw “an abundance of flowers everywhere: narcissus, hyacinths and those in Turkish called Lale.” It’s no coincidence that this period — the wealthiest of the Ottoman era — is called the Tulip era (Lale Devri).
In the 16th century they were brought to Holland from the Ottoman Empire, and quickly became widely popular.

During the month of April, you can spot these glorious spring flowers everywhere in Istanbul. But for a real tulip treat and the International Istanbul Tulip Festival, you have to head to Emirgan Park. It is one of the largest public parks in Istanbul and has several tulip gardens.


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