Culture & Travel9 November 2020
Scent Map of Istanbul
Throughout history, scents have always been one of the most fundamental ways to define a city for mankind. In a world where visuality reigns, defining a city with scents and smells might seem like a challenging task. Yet all cities still greet their visitors with their signature scents. Most of the judgements we form over a place stems from their scents. We listed the iconic scents in Istanbul, a city that bumfuzzles us with a different scent in each neighborhood.
Spice scents will greet you as soon as you enter the Spice Bazaar. You will feel like you’re in a fairytale as you smell all those magical scents among the colorful stands of spice stores. Aniseed, cinnamon, thyme, estragon, pepper, jasmine, bitter almond, bay, nutmeg, and clove smells blend and make you feel closer to this magical world of Istanbul.
The only common element in all provinces to remind you that you are in Istanbul may be the scent of tea. In the mornings or afternoons, while you are taking the ferry or walking past a tea garden... the scent of tea will find you.
It is not possible to have a complete tour of Istanbul until you take the ferry between the two sides and smell the fresh sea as you listen to the sounds of seagulls. Not just the view, but the Bosporus is also one of the very definitive scents of Istanbul.
A true Istanbulite knows the smell of freshly baked simit in the mornings. Every traveler must experience the smell of freshly baked simit permeated in every district of Istanbul.
Obtained only from a special rose (rosa damascena) and having a relaxing effect, rosewater was once produced in and served from the “rose houses” (gülhane) in the gardens of Istanbul palaces. This distant tradition will help you connect with Istanbul’s history.
Judas Trees blossoms with all their glory as the spring comes each year. Flowering from the middle of April, Judas Trees take until the end of May to fully bloom into their brilliant colors. Having a special place in the Ottoman culture with festivities in their name between the 14th and 19th Centuries, Judas Trees are still an important signature scent in Istanbul.