Istanbul's Tulip Festival
Tulips were the favorite flower of the Ottomans for several hundred years. It even had a religious significance because, in the Arabic script, the word for tulip, l’le, resembles the name of Allah. Its botanical name, Tulipa, is derived from the Turkish word "tulbend", meaning “turban", which resembles the shape of a big tulip, as you can see in this portrait of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent (1520-1566).
The tulip was already a cherished element of Ottoman gardens, visual arts and poetry by the time Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent ascended the throne. In 1554, the Austrian ambassador Busbecq came to the court of Suleyman the Magnificent and was struck by the great beauty and variety of flowers in the imperial capital. He was especially impressed by the tulip, a flower then unknown to Europeans. He took some bulbs with him back to Vienna where the first picture of a tulip appeared in the Book of Garden Flowers in 1561. Later the Dutch botanist Clusius obtained some bulbs from Busbecq, and developed many new varieties.
The decoration inside the loops and shafts includes tulips, hyacinths, carnations, and roses.
The design of large silver tulips and crescents enhanced the splendid appearance of the wearer.
The shield is wound with silk in a design of tulips and carnations.
Today, the Tulip continues to fascinate. It often appears in the name of hotels and other public venues in Turkey, and there is even a Golden Tulip Award attributed every year at Istanbul’s Film Festival. The most spectacular example of modern tulip fascination is off course Istanbul's annual Tulip Festival in April, when 16 million tulips bring smiles to people's faces and inspire fresh feelings in their hearts.