Ramadan In İstanbul

Experiencing The Plenitude, Enthusiasm And Brotherhood Of Ramadan In Istanbul Is A Privilege.

Ramadan is the month of fasting. There is no doubt that worship through fasting is at the center of this holy month. Starting with Istanbul, all of Turkey takes on a different atmosphere during this month when brotherliness and sharing are at their peak. From the moment the fast kept on long summer days is broken at sunset, a dynamism begins that lasts until morning. Special book fairs, concerts, exhibitions and shopping make the ebullience and plenty of this month palpable all over the city.

Istanbul is a city of mosques. The city’s magnificent mosques sparkle with the coming of Ramadan.  Almost every restaurant in the city offers special menus. But there is a sense of spiritual sharing in Istanbul that goes beyond the iftar dinner.  The sense of exuberance of the tarawih prayers is tangible everywhere in the historic imperial mosques at Sultanahmet, Eyüp and Üsküdar when the traditional lights strung between the gleaming minarets are lit at evening. Peace and repose permeate Istanbul’s spiritual atmosphere in a reflection of love, tolerance and sharing.

Istanbul’s bazaars are more vibrant than ever in Ramadan when the traditional tastes make their appearance fresh and plentiful on counters around the city. Ingredients for the fast-breaking repast are bought during the day to adorn the evening’s ‘iftar’ table. At the same time, Istanbul is deservedly famous for its dazzling shopping centers. Proffering the prestigious global brands alongside the respected Turkish trademarks, these shopping centers are ideal venues for passing the time in a refreshingly cool environment on hot summer days. In short, Istanbul offers a fun world of surprise-filled shopping.

It is difficult to describe the delights of ‘iftar’ in Istanbul. The iftar tents pitched on almost every square in the city bring everyone together, and special iftar menus are on offer in the city’s many restaurants that appeal to a wide range of tastes. First the delicious aroma of piping hot Ramadan pitta bread descends over the iftar table. Following all the blessings that reflect the abundance of this holy month, the meal ends with another tradition, güllaç, a delicate sweet made with layers of thin dough sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.  Some Istanbulites break their fast in the parks of spiritual venues like Sultan Ahmet and Eyüp Sultan, others on the grass in a picnic atmosphere.

The book fairs held in Istanbul during Ramadan, and the concerts and exhibitions in keeping with the spirit of the holy month, make Istanbul an irresistible center of attraction. Cultural sharing reaches a pinnacle as world-renowned calligraphers and Hafızes who can recite the Holy Quran from memory flock to the city.

The Grand Bazaar on Istanbul’s historic peninsula is where the city’s heart beats. You will find the quintessential Turkey in its broad corridors and narrow passageways. The Grand Bazaar conjures up a magical atmosphere in an array of goods ranging from stunning examples of handicrafts, silver, gold jewelry and precious stones to leather goods, glass wares, antiques and a wide variety of knickknacks.

But Istanbul’s magic lies concealed perhaps not only in its sheer size and modern appearance but in its natural and cultural riches as well. With its magnificent mosques, each one an architectural monument, its great museums, and its Topkapı Palace reflecting the splendor of the sultans, Istanbul is one of a handful of cities of culture not just in Turkey but in the world. And with the Prince’s Islands, within easy reach of the city center by a pleasant ferry ride, as well as the Black Sea shores at Kilyos and Şile, and the Belgrade Forest and its extensive groves, Istanbul magnanimously offers all the peace and tranquility of verdant nature as well.

Straddling two continents, Istanbul is a city bisected by water. Venues scattered over the two shores of the legendary strait combine comfort with a Bosphorus landscape non pareil. Istanbul is a world unto itself, to be explored in all its unusual beauty. And the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Ramadan is the meeting point for this rich world of harmony in differences.

Cultural Attaché of the Saudi Arabian Embassy
“Ramadan, which Turks call “the sultan of months”, has been celebrated cheerfully every year in Istanbul. With the illumination of the mosques and the whole city, İstanbul has a completely different atmosphere. Activities appropriate with the spirit of the blessed month in Sultanahmet Square and Feshane make the iftar meals enjoyable. Iftar meals accompanied by traditional music and traditional Turkish dishes and desserts or meals eaten together with 20000 people from İstanbul in İstanbul streets, showing the public spirit, make the iftar meals more special. Traditional Ramadan festivals being held after iftar meals allow the guests spend beautiful moments.”

Turkish Airlines is joining in the Ramadan enthusiasm this month with special reduced fares and extra baggage allowances. For more information: