Local traditions and culture in Istanbul

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Most Viewed Local Customs in Istanbul

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    In Istanbul during the protests - Turks unite!

    by angiebabe Written May 18, 2014

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    We went to Taksim square as thought the protests were over but had been told it was a national rally day or people day which meant there would be concerts, entertainment and so on - there were thousands of people there...

    There was a really clear picture of unity - many groups with various flags of their groups but they were there together - along with hotdog stands, watermelon stands, other food stalls, newspaper and flag sellers..

    a little bit nervy but the people were calm, smiling, waving flags etc.

    It was really power to the people and Turkey unite

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    Hamman

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

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    Yes, I know that turkish bath is mandatory! Forgive me, but I have bad experiences with massage, and that made me skip it.

    I know that I was at the door of one of the most famous turkish baths, in Sultanhammet, near Grand Bazaar, but didn't pass the door.

    Maybe in my third visit!

    Istanbul - Turkey
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    Reverence to Ataturk

    by solopes Updated Dec 26, 2013

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    I know the big importance of Ataturk in modern Turkey.

    It is not surprise his presence everywhere in official places and political instruments. But I noticed that popular respect follows the same high level of reverence.

    From taxis to touristy gadgets he is always present.

    Istanbul - Turkey
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    State Opera and Ballet, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written Aug 4, 2013

    Althoughthe history of the art of classical ballet in Turkey goes back only as a far as 60 years, according to the evidence, classical ballet performances in Turkey date from about two centuries before.

    As far as established ballet activities were concerned, most noteable efforts were of Guiseppe Donizetti (Donizetti Pasha), who was “The General Superintendant of the Ottoman Military Bands’’ during the respective reigns of Mahmud the Second (1784-1839) and Abdülmecid (1823-1861). Donizetti, who was invited to Istanbul in September 1828; introduced the principles of the classical western music as well as some samples of operas, operettas and ballets, to the Ottoman Palace; thus played the leading role in the adoption of these trends into Turkey.

    The first opera staged during the Ottoman period is usually attributed to the reign of Selim III (1761–1808), when Selim, himself a composer and a poet, invited a foreign company to stage an opera at the Topkapı Palace in 1797.

    Management of the theatre and the opera were separated in 1958, creating the directorates of Turkish State Theatres and State Opera and Ballet. In 1959, the İstanbul City Opera was established by the private effort of Aydın Gün, and it was nationalized in 1970 as the İstanbul State Opera and Ballet. This was followed by the establishment of İzmir State Opera and Ballet in 1983, Mersin State Opera and Ballet in 1992, and Antalya State Opera and Ballet in 1999.

    As you are in Istanbul, its a nice option to check the programs and watch a ballet or art performance opera on an evening ... :)

    State Opera and Ballet, Istanbul, TR State Opera and Ballet, Istanbul, TR State Opera and Ballet, Istanbul, TR State Opera and Ballet, Istanbul, TR
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    Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jun 24, 2013

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    There are so many pigeons all over the city which are mostly located on main squares and are after food ... :)

    Its a local custom that locals feed those pigeons especially in winter as snow covers the city and its much more harder for birds to reach food ... Especially kids like to do that as a joy and run thru the pigeon crowds .

    Spend some time with the pigeons and they will relax you while you watch the hordes fly from one feeder to the other. It might even be scary at some times as the pigeons swoosh before you, just inches above your head, or face. I always believe that this is a magic show that everyone has to experience for themselves.

    The "bird food" is sold by the local vendors located next to the most main squares in Istanbul, each small plate full of bird foOd is sold by those "vendors" for about 2.- TL, equals to about 1.- USD.

    Enjoy ... :)

    Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR Feeding Pigeons, Istanbul, TR
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    Ottoman Bird Houses, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Updated Jun 20, 2013

    Its a local tradition to build "Bird Houses" even from "Ottoman" times to give protection to the animals, especially for the birds ....

    Bird houses are man’s humble offering to his winged, feathered friends and one of the oldest and most important expressions of the love of and compassion for animals. The history of houses built for birds like sparrows, finches and swallows goes back a long way.

    Some of these tiny dwellings, whose numbers proliferated in parallel with the development of classical Ottoman architecture in the 15th century, indicate that they were being built, albeit on a smaller scale, already in the pre-Ottoman period. The purpose of these charming bird houses, which the Turks continued to build up to the 19th century is to provide refuge to birds who range freely through the skies but are consequently lonely to the same degree and to protect them from storms, rain, mud and the burning sun.

    Bird houses come in all varieties. While the first bird houses tended to be simple, in the 18th century they were transformed into structures of comfort exhibiting a refined aesthetic sense. Their houses need to be constructed on the sunny side of buildings, in a place that is not exposed to strong winds. One of the most beautiful examples of civilian architecture, bird houses are the centre of attraction on any building. Some have been added following construction, others built in at the start.

    We encounter them everywhere, on mosques, madrasas, libraries, houses, inns, baths, tombs, bridges ... :)

    I have taken that "Bird House" photo at the "Eyup Sultan Mosque" but as said above, you can see them all over the city ... :)

    Ottoman Bird Houses, Istanbul, TR Ottoman Bird Houses, Istanbul, TR Ottoman Bird Houses, Istanbul, TR Ottoman Bird Houses, Istanbul, TR
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    Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written May 9, 2013

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    Hıdırellez is celebrated as the day on which Prophets Hızır (Al-Khidr) and Ilyas (Elijah) met on the earth. Hıdırellez starts on May 5 night and falls on May 6 in the Gregorian calendar and April 23 in the Julian calendar. It is celebrated in Turkey and throughout the Turkic world. It celebrates the arrival of spring and is a religious holiday for the Alevi as well. Đurđevdan is the Christian variety of this spring festival throughout the Balkans, notably areas which had become under the control of the Ottoman Empire by the end of the 16th century.

    Hıdrellez ceremonies are held in the countryside near the cities, towns or villages where generally streams, lakes or other water springs exist. By great majority, there are tombs or shrines open to visits in those locations which are placed on hills. Bearing the specific features, Hıdırlıks are particularly chosen for Hıdırellez ceremonies.

    As Hızır is believed to be a healer, some ritual practices as regards to health issues can be seen on Hıdırellez Day. On that day, meals cooked by lamb meat are traditionally feasted. It is believed that on Hıdırellez Day all kinds or species of the living, plants and trees revive in a new cycle of life, therefore the meat of the lambs grazing on the land which Hızır walks through is assumed as the source of health and happiness. In addition to these, some special meals besides lamb meat are cooked on that day.

    Its great gathering of people regardless social statues that all come together, sing, eat, dance and celebrate with joy ... :)

    Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR Hidrellez, Istanbul, TR
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    Nimet Abla, The Lucky Lottery, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written May 6, 2013

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    "Nimet Abla" was born in 1899 in İstanbul and passed away 1978. She was a national lottery (milli piyango) seller. In 1928 she started selling lottery tickets in her shop in Eminonu. In 1931 one of the tickets won and since then she has become a public figure of luck.

    She moved her shop at 1938 to its permanent location in Eminönü and since then everyone knows that specific place. She was very clever and used her earned money for newspaper advertising and informed the locals about people who won lottery with tickets bought from her shop. Since then and still any local person in hopes of winning the big lottery definitely wants tickets bought from Nimet Abla, especially on big draw times as like New Year, Bayram and so on, on which the amount given will be highered up by National Lottery.

    It’s almost like an urban legend, if you get the ticket from her you surely will get something in return.

    Well, buying a lottery ticket would be not your first attraction in Istanbul but you can have a stop and see how the locals are still persuing the legend in hopes of dreams of wealth.

    Enjoy and Good Luck ... :)

    Nimet Abla, The Lucky Lottery, Istanbul, TR Nimet Abla, The Lucky Lottery, Istanbul, TR Nimet Abla, The Lucky Lottery, Istanbul, TR Nimet Abla, The Lucky Lottery, Istanbul, TR
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    Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written May 3, 2013

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    Besiktas is a unique neighborhood of Istanbul.with its local crowds buzzing around dusk till dawn, cheap and cheerful restaurants and fish market The fish market has always been a giant contributor to the lively scene in the neighborhood: it’s right in the middle of all the buzz, and with its fishmongers singing tunes about how fresh the fish is or the sounds of the clients bargaining, even passing by this place makes you feel jolly.

    Actually the market attracted a lot of critique with its renovation in 2008, some said that it looked too out-of-place in such an old neighborhood, but the concrete structure and the light bulbs that hang from the high ceilings bring a breath of fresh air to the street.

    I strongly recommend you visiting the market in the evening even if you’re not buying any fish, just to look around and feel the vibe, see for yourself whether the controversial architecture is any good and if you’re hungry, there are a lot of good fish restaurants attached to the market. Enjoy ... :)

    Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR Besiktas Fish Market, Istanbul, TR
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    Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written Apr 24, 2013

    Football (Soccer) is very well known and played in Turkey and on the days the games are played, fans buy several scarfs, hats etc to support their teams and football players ...

    Near the football stadiums on those game days, you can see many vendors on streets selling those hats, scarfs etc full of color concerning the several different teams of the soccer players.

    Besides the Turkish Leagues Football Teams, vendors also sell the international teams uniforms, scarfs, hats etc, too, as triying to sell them to the tourists passing by as pedestrians near the stadiums ...

    Just join and watch one of those games if u have spare time in Istanbul within your travel ... :)

    Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR Soccer Team Support, Istanbul, TR
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    Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written Apr 22, 2013

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    Thats a very common local traditions especially in Istanbul that as of from very early morning hours locals come to Galata Bridge and fish on Golden Horn.

    Some do this for hobby and bring back the fish they catched for thier own consumption and for family and some sell them just there right away to the pedestrians walking on the bridge. Undeniable fresh fish as "just caught" ... :)

    Even winter time u can see fishers on the bridge w their fishing rods and heavy coats and boots, still fishing ...

    Give a try if u have spare time in your Istanbul visit .... :)

    Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR Fishers on Galata Bridge, Istanbul, TR
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    What a shock! Gay life in Istanbul.

    by piosku67 Written Jul 19, 2012

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    Istanbul is a city of abundance and piles of sweets in shop windows is a good symbol of its richness. Tradition melts with modernity. The city delivers loads of different impressions and sometimes tourists can be overwhelmed. When I was passing by a small street in Beyoglu I came across an openly gay place, which is not possible in many, mostly new, European Union’s countries to have a rainbow flags exhibited outside. But there it is. It means that Istanbul is really diverse, although being an openly gay in Turkey is not a social norm, I guess.

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    BOZA

    by mtncorg Written Nov 15, 2011

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    Alcohol is forbidden in Islam, but this fermented drink made from fermented bulgur wheat falls through the cracks somehow. Fermented bulgur wheat, water, sugar and supposedly vitamins made this the drink of choice for the Janissaries – the shock troops of the Ottomans. You can find boza on sale from street stalls or in specialized shops of which the most famous is Vefa Bozacisi found just west of Istanbul University near the ªehzade Mosque. It is an interesting drink somewhat reminiscent of applesauce. Atatürk enjoyed this place too, though his cup preserved on the wall looks like he drank coffee here instead?

    open 0700-2400

    Vefa Bozacisi Boza for take out Boza - the drink The Man's cup Boza is 'the drink' for cholera
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    Speaking and language knowledge

    by Raimix Updated Aug 27, 2011

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    As Istanbul is quite touristy, seems like people around could talk and understand English, especially sellers. Anyway that English is quite basic, mostly phrases to get to know each other (“how are you?”, “where are you from?”, “I am Turkish”). Some people pretend to understand English, answering “ok” in any question you ask :)

    I loved that way that sellers try to invite you into shops guessing where are you from and telling phrases in English, Russian, German and even Japanese.

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    Cats and dogs

    by Raimix Updated Aug 27, 2011

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    It seems like straight cats and dogs is a really big feature of Istanbul city. Most of them don’t look aggressive or so, but create special atmosphere. In some outdoor eating places cats were waiting for food or simply were mewing around table.

    Anyway, I think it is more or less a problem about taking care of animals.

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Istanbul Local Customs

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