Tulips and History of Turkey Tour 2014
April 14th - 23rd, 2014


‘April 15. Tuesday. Istanbul
We spent our first morning visiting Nezahat Gokyigit Botanic Garden on the Asian side. To commemorate his late wife, Nezahat Gökyigit, in 1995 Ali Nihat Gökyigit started a planting and reforestation plan on a 46 hectare area of land at the motorway intersection which was leased from the Roads Directorate. First, the area was cleared of debris created by the motorway construction and the soil improved prior to approximately 50,000 trees and shrubs were planted. It was officially opened to the public as a Park in 2002, but as its function changed, in 2003, it became the Nezahat Gökyigit Botanic Garden (NGBB). It is a beautiful garden to walk through and quite a miracle really as it is planted right by a series of roads. Once inside the gardens though, the sounds of birds can mostly be heard. I have been here twice now and both times have discovered new plants, trees in bloom I had not seen before, quiet areas to just sit and enjoy the tulips or other flowers. A lovely place to escape the city life for a few hours. Areas that are left wild are full of wildflowers, a secret den full of rhodos, the Judas trees in brilliant colour.

Then we headed back to the Europe side to have lunch is a very nice seafood restaurant, where I just happened to run into Michel Gauthier from Canada and from here we drove through just the coolest resort area to visit Sabanci Museum. Sabanci University's Sakip Sabanci Museum is located in Emirgan, at one of Istanbul's oldest settlements on the Bosphorus. In 1927 Prince Mehmed Ali Hasan of the Hidiv family of Egypt commissioned the Italian architect Edouard De Nari to build the villa, now the museum's main building, and it was used as a summer house for many years by various members of the Hidiv family; for a short time it also served as the Montenegran Embassy. After the mansion was purchased in 1951 by industrialist Haci Ömer Sabanci from Prince Iffet, a member of the Hidiv family, it came to be known as "Atli Kösk", The Horse Mansion, because of the statue of a horse (purchased in the same year) that was installed in the garden; the statue is the 1864 work of the French sculptor Louis Doumas. The gardens are very restful and full of sculptures and the view is incredible. It is amazing to know that there are over 3,000 mosques still functioning here but when you look at the city skyline all you really see are many minarets.

Emirgan Park, a gorgeous park that had thousands and thousands of tulips during the Tulip Festival….perfect timing! A fantastic display greets us as we wander through the hills and valleys of this beautiful park that dates back to the 16th century. it was gifted to Lord Chancellor Nisanci Feridun Bey, of whom the Park was originally named after. During the 17th century, Sultan Murad IV offered the entire estate to Safavid Persian commander Emir Gûne Han, who had surrendered his castle to the Ottomans without resistance. Over time, the name of the Park changed to Emirgan and the ownership changed many times until the 1940s when it was granted to the city of Istanbul. Emirgan Park is spread over more than 100 acres of land and boasts an extensive variety of flora and fauna. We learned that the word ‘tulipa’ meant fabric wrapped around your head and it looks like the shape of a tulip. The 18th century Ottomans started growing their own bulbs and really wanted the pointed tip bulbs because they looked like daggers.


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