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Most visitors to Istanbul consider shopping as part of their must-do Istanbul experience. From Sultan Ahmet to Taksim arcades to snobbish Nişantaşı to busy shopping malls at Levent, there are a host of shops selling items which typically represent this vibrant city. Whether you are shopping for souvenirs for yourself or gifts for family and friends, here are some ideas that may give you inspiration!

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight

Made out of starch and sugar, with a filling of nuts or dried fruits, this delicious treat will appeal to even those who are not sweet eaters. My favorite Lokum shop is Ali Muhittin Hacı Bekir, which has sold Turkish delights to sweet-toothed residents and visitors for more than two centuries.

Evil Eye

Evil Eye

Ubiquitous in its use, the striking image of the cobalt-blue eye has appeared not only in the bazaars of Istanbul, but everywhere in the city. The evil eye tokens are used to ward off the evil eye and protect the believer from jealousy and ill will.

It’s still a tradition in Turkey to bring a blue evil eye token to new-born babies, echoing the belief that young children are often the most susceptible to the curse.

Iznik Tiles

Iznik Tiles

Iznik tiles, named for the city in Anatolia where they were produced, developed a trademark style of curling vines and flowers rendered in beautiful shades of blue and turquoise. These designs were informed by the blue and white floral patterns found in Chinese porcelain—similar to earlier Mamluk tiles, and Timurid art to the East.

You see mostly tulip motifs in Turkish tiles and ceramics. It is a short-lived beauty of nature and embedded into national and Islamic culture of Turkey. There is a resemblance between the Arabic words Allah الله (God) and lale (tulip) ﻻ ﻟﻪ. This is why tulip motifs are used in mosque ornaments as well.

You can find various items with Iznik tiles in the giftshops around the Sultan Ahmet Square, like plates, bowls, and vases.

Turkish Kilims, Rugs and Pillow Covers

Turkish Kilims, Rugs and Pillow Covers

Turkish carpets are famous for their beautiful and complex patterns and rich, naturally-dyed colors. They come in various forms: “nomadic” or “tribal” rugs (knotted pile) kilims (flat-woven rugs), cicims (embroidered rugs), angora goat hair rugs, sumaks (kilims that have been hand embroidered to enhance their patterns), prayer rugs (often with an arched niche called the mihrab, which is pointed towards Mecca when its use prays) and cushion covers. Kilims can be placed on walls or on the floors. They are associated with Turkey but are produced in Pakistan, India and other places as well. Adored for their intricate designs, sumptuous colours, and inimitable craftsmanship, Turkish rugs have not only found their way into households and interiors the world over, but also onto catwalks and concert stages, as well as in scores of artworks.

The Grand Bazaar and the Sultanahmet are the best places to find kilim and rug shops. You can find thousands of different rugs and kilims, from affordable ones to hand-woven expensive pieces that cost a small fortune.

Turkish Mosaic Lamps

Turkish Mosaic Lamps

Turkish mosaic lamps exist in a class of its own. These lamps have been traced as far back as two millennials ago in Asian Minor. They are a beauty to behold and not as expensive as people think it is. Mosaic lamps have fundamental qualities and unequalled ability to create an uplifting atmosphere that just puts you in a better mood instantly.

Mosaic lamps are usually very colourful and so you must factor in the colour of a room and its surroundings when buying mosaic lamps. They are not usually very bright, and it is intentional. Their purposes are more of creating an ambiance as well as complimenting the entire decor of a room. Remember that mosaic lamps are artefacts and not designed for working. They are there to be admired and appreciated for its ageless beauty.

The historical peninsula is the place where you can find mosaic lamps in different sizes and shapes with quite affordable prices.

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