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Tulips in Turkey


You know Spring is in the air when you walk around Alanya city centre because you can’t help seeing the beautiful displays of tulips and daffodils dotted around our city. Nothing heralds a rise in temperature better than this pretty little flower nodding its head in the warm sunshine. But I was surprised to know that this much-loved flower doesn’t, in fact, come from the tulip fields in Holland but is a native flower of Turkey!  

Tulips are a native wildflower of Anatolia and are thought to have been around as early as 1000 Ad. The name ‘tulip’ comes from the Turkish word for turban, which originally came from a Persian word ‘delband’, also meaning turban. However, tulips themselves have always been known as lale in Turkey. They became popular when the Sultan of the then Ottoman Empire became enamoured of the flower.  

At the time (16 century), artists used the tulip motif to decorate their art, clothes, and fabrics. Architectural buildings made of marble and stone were engraved with the striking flower’s outline, which continues to this day. Unique manuscripts and books were also adorned with the tulip, which was also mentioned in songs and poems.  

The mania for tulips and their bulbs reached a fever pitch in the early 17th century when the buying and selling of bulbs reached extraordinarily high levels. This mainly occurred in the Netherlands, but the effects were felt all over the modern world. Historians liken the mania for today’s bitcoin with tulipomania of the past.  

 Each flower head or bloom has three petals and three sepals, but it actually looks like a six-petalled flower because they are all nearly the same size. An interesting fact about tulips is that they are edible! During World War II, tulip bread was eaten by people who couldn’t afford to eat other foods. Some people have even been known to make wine from the humble tulip. 

Tulips symbolise perfect love and the many different colours carry different meanings.  

  • Red tulips: true love  
  • Purple: royalty  
  • Yellow tulips: joy, cheerful thoughts  
  • White tulips: purity, respect and maybe to ask for forgiveness  
  • Pink tulips: caring and good wishes  
  • True black tulips are extremely rare and symbolise royalty and power and strength.  

So, if you want to see a truly stunning display of this flower, then head towards the centre of Alanya, follow your nose and look for the gardens in front of the council offices. The scent at this time of year is almost overwhelming but be quick, tulips are not known for their longevity and the flower is gone before you know it.