We are just back from an incredible week of touring Turkey. When I say incredible, I mean INCREDIBLE.
While it would take a book to share all that we have experienced, today I will give you a glimpse with more glimpses to come.
Of course, the first glimpse will be about roses.
Roses or “Guls” have weaved their way throughout history and you cannot go far in many of the history lessons without bumping into rose stories. This is especially true in the Turkish culture where roses are valued for their beauty, fragrance (essential oils and rose water), medicine, flavor and for the sense of well being they create. It is even said that rose essence was used to enhance memory and to improve skin elasticity and so much more.
My first story for you comes from TOPKAPI PALACE MUSEUM in Istanbul (formerly Constantinople named for Constantine). This 15th century palace was the residence and headquarters of the Otttoman Empire Sultans.
On the grounds are beds and beds and beds of roses. Roses line almost every walkway. There are thousands. This area is also home to Gülhane Park (Which means Rose House). Yes, I knew there would be roses, but it was almost overwhelming to see SOOO many roses! I wanted so badly to see them in bloom and know which rose varieties were there, but we were a bit early — most were still small and not yet in bloom. However, we did find a few early bloomers. While our schedule did not allow for us to be there for very long, this place will linger long in my memory.
Roses filled all of these beds and others! Even though you can hardly see them, they were strong and healthy.
I took a great deal of pleasure thinking that while in Turkey, I couldn’t have been too far from the original Garden of Eden. Good thoughts!
I also learned that one of the palace kitchens was dedicated to preserves. The evening meal ended with an “almost celebration” with preserves. While most fruits were preserved, I read that the favorite flavor of Sultan was — you guessed it — Rose Petal.
Rosa damascena, the Damask rose is the primary source for rose oil and flavorings. These roses are most widely grown in Syria, Turkey, and Bulgaria. I recently purchased two Damask roses from High Country Rose in Colorado. You can see their selection here.
It will take some time to process all that we have experienced, but I know that Turkey and her lovely people will be forever in my heart.
ONE MORE ROSY STORY…
While visiting the mosques, we respectfully wore our scarves. My beautiful rose scarf was a gift from my friend, the amazing painter of roses, Michelle Endersby. It was a great pleasure to wear it. Thank you, Michelle.
"Gule Gule" for now.