Travelling to Istanbul in Ramadan
Ramadan known as Ramazan in Turkish, is the 11th month of Islamic lunar calendar. It is sacred time for Muslims throughout the world for fasting and refraining from the excesses of physical life. Fasting for Muslim last throughout the whole Ramadan. Nothing goes through their throat from dawn to dusk.
While fasting during the month of Ramadan is compulsory and the 3th of the 5 pillars of Islam, Tukey is a secular country thus fasting is totally voluntary. Istanbul is the largest town and it is very cosmopolite place. If you travel to Istanbul in Ramadan you will see life is going on as usual. Most of the restaurants, shops, cafes etc. will be open. I have personally travel to almost every corner of Turkey during the Ramadan and I always found a restaurant open. It is true that life slows down during Ramadan but you will not go hungry in Ramadan if you are travelling around Turkey. Banks, shops, museums and sites are open as usual in Ramadan. However life before the dusk when people rush home to be on time for breaking their fast will be hectic. Restaurants might be full at this time of breaking fast.
The plus side of travelling in Ramadan to Istanbul is to be part of this festive time as the actual life starts after people breaking their fast and start to come out to the squares where celebrations goes on. Istanbul’s historic squares are very crowded with locals throughout Ramadan. Concerts, whirling dervish ritual shows, traditional puppet shows and other local performances are popular at this time. In the old city, the historic Roman Hippodrome next to Blue Mosque is a must to visit in the evening for Ramadan celebration. You can also enjoy shopping local crafts and taste Turkish snacks, food and drinks here. Bayazit Square is another place you can visit in the evening. Local municipalities set up huge tents where they serve free food to people to break their fast. You may see long queues in such places. Taksim Square and Besiktas Square are also places you can go for local concerts in Ramadan.
Ramadan also has its own culinary tradition that offer some food you can find during this festive time. A flat thick type of bread with sesame seeds called “Ramazan Pidesi”, and delicious “Güllaç”, a white, fluffy, milky dessert, made with layers of paper-thin cornstarch leaves soaked with sweetened milk and flavored with rose water are two most common food associated with Ramadan.