April showers bring May flowers, as the saying goes. We’re getting plenty of rain this month in Turkey, but we’ve had flowers. April is the big month for tulips in Istanbul, and you can see them planted all over town as 11.5 million were planted for this year’s season. I took today’s photo at Emirgan Park, one of the prime viewing spots of the Istanbul Tulip Festival. There are over 100 varieties planted in Emirgan Park alone, many in interesting patterns like the nazar evil eye, a major symbol of Turkish superstition.
You probably associate tulips with Holland, but it was Ottoman Turks who first cultivated them and introduced them to the Dutch in the 17th century. Today, Turkey is trying to reclaim the flower, growing millions of tulips with a goal of becoming an exporter again by 2014. Along with fresh flowers, you can see the influence of the tulip in the shape of the Turkish tea glasses, and as legend has it, the shape of the sultan’s turbans.