Incredible Scents of İstanbul


By the time you are walking on the streets of İstanbul, you will definitely come across at least a couple of the incredible and noticeable scents below. Open your eyes and inhale!

Bosphorus, iodine, moss, fish, south west wind, balloons.

In winter, roasted chestnuts, ‘boza’ and ‘sahlep’.

In summer, boiled sweet corns.

Early in the mornings, freshly baked ’simit’.

When you sit in a side street cafe, cats, freshly brewed Turkish coffee, ruby colour Turkish tea.

If you are in a courtyard of a mosque, pigeons, birdseeds.

Near a fun park, pop corn, cotton candy, ‘mesir macunu’

In a winter evening by the ghettos, coal fire.

In the narrow streets of an old neighbourhood, all kinds of mouth-watering foods, fry ups, stews, semolina halva.

Mellow summer breeze brings water melon, sunflower seeds, home made soda-pop.

Time for the winter preparations, tomato paste, ‘tarhana’, pickles, jams and marmalades.

In the middle of the traffic, exhaust fume.

In ferry, wafer and ‘simit’.

In Princes Islands, horse shit, potato croquet, Marmara sea, in early March; mimosa flowers.

Late April, early May, Judas trees (also a visual feast!).

In June all the way from Kanlıca to Beykoz and if you are lucky in Barbaros Bulvari, lindens.

In Spice Market, thousands of spices from saffron to cinnamon.

In Eminönü, grilled fish in fresh bread.

In Grand Bazaar, a little bit of everything.

In St Sophia, pure ancient history.

In Ortaköy, baked potato.

In shopping malls, artificial sweet corn and cinnamon rolls.

In Nişantaşı, all kinds of perfume.

In spring, freshly cut grass, roses, bouquets of narcissus and the symbol of Istanbul; tulips.

In some public parks, during summer time, barbecue.

In old taverns, rakı, white cheese, sweet melon.

In old pharmacies, lemon and lavander cologne.

In Harbiye, my childhood, rubber balls, chocolate milk, hopscotch stone, yellow soap.

I apologise to all other scents that I could not mention this time…