#JOM! GO: Tulip joy in Istanbul

WHILE sakura marks the beginning of spring in Japan and South Korea, tulip ushers in the season in Istanbul.

Every year in April, some of Istanbul's popular spots are decorated with tulips, transforming the city into a visual feast.

An expansive carpet of tulips is woven into Sultanahmet Square. This is a sight that should not be missed.

Similar views can be found in Emirgan Grove, Gulhane Park, Yildiz Grove, Soganli Botanic Park, Beykoz Grove, Buyuk Camlica Grove, Kucuk Camlica Grove, Fethipasa Grove and the Hidiv Pavillon Grove.

Tulips were brought to Anatolia by the Turks of Central Asia's Pamir Mountains, the tulip's original homeland, and are among the most important symbols of Turkish culture.

The tulip, a bulbous and herbaceous plant, has been used as an ornamental motif in handicrafts since the 12th century.

This flower was trendy in the Ottoman period as a subject of poems, edicts, stories and miniature paintings.

Tulip motifs were used in mosques, tombstones and palace decorations, as well as in carpet and rug patterns, on caftans and dowry chests, and even on coins, battle helmets and cannon castings.

Essentially wildflowers, tulips were cultivated in the 16th century in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, and were planted in the city as garden flowers.

This passion for tulips rose and expanded throughout the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, leading to the development of different varieties and cultivars.

During the reign of Sultan Ahmed III, the tulip reached such prominence, with almost 2,000 varieties, that it gave its name to an era, the Tulip Era (Lale Devri), at the beginning of the 18th century.

And do you know that each colour has a different meaning? As more tulip varieties were cultivated, tulips and their colours were accorded various meanings.

Red tulips symbolise love, and white tulips represent purity and innocence.

Purple blooms denoted nobility and romance, and yellow points to joy and hopeless love.

Rare black tulips signify unattainability and rarity, and striped tulips mean "you have beautiful eyes".

This flower was first brought to Vienna, Austria, and then to the Netherlands in the second half of the 15th century and thus introduced to Europe.

Quickly attaining popularity in the Netherlands, tulips were brought to Ottawa, the capital of Canada, becoming world-renowned.

There are numerous varieties grown in Anatolia today. Among the most striking is the inverted tulip, also known as the weeping bride.

There are 167 species of inverted tulips worldwide, and of these 43 species, 20 can be seen in Turkiye.

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