Live tulip carpet installed in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square

Live tulip carpet installed in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square

Paris Achen - ISTANBUL

The world’s largest “carpet” of live tulips was “rolled out” in Sultanahmet Square on Thursday, April 25, with an induction by new Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu.

This is the fifth consecutive year that the Istanbul municipality has installed the tulip carpet as part of the city’s annual tulip festival, which ushers in spring in Istanbul.

Measuring about 1,400 square meters, the carpet is made of about 640,000 tulips and designed in the pattern of a Turkish rug, said Korkut Yetgin, spokesman for Asya Lale, the country’s largest producer of alliaceous plants. The company, based in Konya, provided all of the tulips used in the carpet this year.

Asya Lale employees helped municipal employees weave the carpet flower-by-flower. It took two and half days to complete and cost a total of about 1.2 million Turkish Liras, Yetgin said. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality has billed it as the world’s largest tulip carpet.

The public can view the living carpet until April 30 in Sultanahmet Square - also home to the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Mayor İmamoğlu attended the opening ceremony of the carpet just before noon April 25 and tweeted photos of his time there. This year is his first tulip festival since winning the Istanbul mayorship for the Republican People’s Party (CHP), ending the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule in this city of 15 million people.

“The world’s largest tulip carpet for the 5th time in Sultanahmet Square,” İmamoğlu wrote on Twitter. “Our traditional patterned carpet formed from the tulips produced by our farmers at Konya Çumralı can be visited until 30 April.”

As part of the month-long festival April 1-30, hundreds of thousands of tulips are planted in different squares, parks and other public spaces around the city.

IN PHOTOS: Live tulip carpet installed in Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square

In Emirgan Park in Sarıyer district, visitors can see tulips planted in a variety of whimsical patterns, including one bed in the shape of a map of Turkey and in the red-and-white design of the Turkish flag.

The tiered park overlooking the Bosphorus is a popular destination for Turkish brides and grooms to snap wedding photos.

The tulip festival also is held in Gülhane Park in Eminönü district near Topkapı Palace, Yıldız Park in Beşiktaş district and Çamlıca Park in the Asian side district of Üsküdar.

Tulip fanfare has been part of the culture in Istanbul for hundreds of years. The flower was emblematic of the Ottoman Empire, circa 1300 to 1920.

Contrary to popular impression, tulips originated in the Ottoman Empire, not in the Netherlands, a fact acknowledged even by one of Holland’s main tourism websites, Holland.com.

The bloom’s name originated from the Turkish word for “turban,” “so called from the fancied resemblance of the flower to a turban,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

In the 16th century, Turks brought tulips to Holland, where the flower gained worldwide popularity.

The tulip has been the official logo for Turkey since 2001, but the Ministry of Tourism announced late last year that it plans to change the logo to something more modern.