Inspiring Quotes and Poems about Istanbul

by Fay

Istanbul is a city that has been immortalised through the poems and quotes of many. A city that poets and writers have tried to demystify for centuries. It is also a place that no written word can describe. Istanbul is a city that you fall in love with the first time you visit and you find your utmost joy in the little things it gives you.

My husband and I always get that chilled feeling of happiness whenever we cross the Bosphorus in a ferry, hear the call to prayer, or drink Turkish tea overlooking Sultanahmet Mosque. So, here is a list of mixed quotes and poems of Istanbul to inspire you for your next visit to Turkey.

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15 popular quotes about Istanbul

Dolmabahce palace in Istanbul

1_I found that the loudest fans in the world are in Istanbul__Roger Waters

2_Istanbul is inspiring because it has its own code of architecture, literature, poetry, music.” __Christian Louboutin

3_ “It was in Cihangir that I first learned Istanbul was not an anonymous multitude of walled-in lives – a jungle of apartments where no one knew who was dead or who was celebrating what – but an archipelago of neighborhoods in which everyone knew each other.”__Orhan Pamuk

4_ Life can’t be all that bad, I’d think from time to time. Whatever happens, I can always take a long walk along the Bosphorus__Orhan Pamuk

5_Interestingly, the Istanbul bid did not begin with the Turkish government or the mayor of Istanbul, but by groups of publicly spirited citizens” __Jeremy Isaacs

6_If the Earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital” __Napoleon Bonaparte

7_All other cities are doomed, but I imagine that as long as people exist, Constantinople will exist” __Petrus Gyllius

8_ “Holy Istanbul! Your name is the most enchanting one of all names which enchants me” __Pierre Loti

9_Istanbul, a universal beauty where poet and archeologist, diplomat and merchant, princess and sailor, a northerner, and westerner screams with same admiration. The whole world thinks that this city is the most beautiful place on earth” __Edmondo De Amicis

10_Either I conquer Istanbul or Istanbul conquers me” __Fatih Sultan Mehmet

11_İstanbul is a magical seal which unites Europe and Asia since the ancient times. Without a doubt, Istanbul is certainly the most beautiful place of the world” __Gerard De Nerval

12_ People were right when they say there is no other place on earth as beautiful looking as Istanbul __François-René de Chateaubriand

13_ On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, İstanbul, has its place in the hearts of all citizens __Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

14_If one had but a single glance to give the world one should gaze on Istanbul”__Alphonse De Lamartine

15_ “Istanbul… The constant beating of the wave of the east against the rock of the west”__Susan Moody

5 Famous Poems about Istanbul

Suleymaniye mosque in Istanbul

From Another Hill

I looked at you from another hill, dear İstanbul!
I know you like the back of my hand, and love you dearly.
Come, come and sit on my heart´s throne as long as I live
Just to love a district of yours is worth a whole life.

There are many flourishing cities in the world.
But you´re the only one who creates enchanting beauty.
I say, he who has lived happily, in the longest dream,
Is he who spent his life in you, died in you, and was buried in you.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı – From Another Hill

I’m Listening to Istanbul 

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed:
At first, there is a gentle breeze
And the leaves on the trees
Softly sway;
Out there, far away,
The bells of water-carriers unceasingly ring;
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed;
Then suddenly birds fly by,
Flocks of birds, high up, with a hue and cry,
While the nets are drawn in the fishing grounds
And a woman’s feet begin to dabble in the water.
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.
The Grand Bazaar’s serene and cool,
An uproar at the hub of the Market,
Mosque yards are full of pigeons.
While hammers bang and clang at the docks
Spring winds bear the smell of sweat;
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed;
Still giddy from the revelries of the past,
A seaside mansion with dingy boathouses is fast asleep.
Amid the din and drone of southern winds, reposed,
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.
A pretty girl walks by on the sidewalk:
Four-letter words, whistles, and songs, rude remarks;
Something falls out of her hand –
It is a rose, I guess.
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.
A bird flutters around your skirt;
On your brow, is there sweet? Or not? I know.
Are your lips wet? Or not? I know.
A silver moon rises beyond the pine trees:
I can sense it all in your heart’s throbbing.
I am listening to İstanbul, intent, my eyes closed.

Orhan Veli Kanık – I’m Listening to İstanbul 

I sat down, another istanbul, i thought
more you inside, more with you
Its green is more green, its blue is more blue
that, with your hands makes everything more beautiful

Erased all the stars from sky
instead your eyes, i put, your eyes
spread your hair over İstanbul
Painted everywhere to the color of your lips

Now istanbul is bright, that shining
your smell, i made blow from seas
with your beauty i decorated gardens

I made you istanbul, istanbul you
in every street i wrote your poem line by line
now, all the parts of this city tells about you

Ahmet Selçuk İlkan

Istanbul Epic

Just say “İstanbul” and I think of
A basket full of reddish-colored grapes
On a fine evening at Sehzadebasi
A girl walks by, ruthlessly female
Three candles on top of the basket
I would kill myself for her attitute
Taste of grape honey on her full lips
Desire filling her from top to toe
Willow tree, summer breeze, harvest dance
Surely she was born in a wine cellar
On a fine evening at Sehzadebasi
Once more the keel of my heart
Runs aground on the rocks
Just say “İstanbul” and the Grand Bazaar
Comes to mind the Algiers March
Arm in arm with the Ninth Symphony
A perfect bridal suite a splendid dowry
Only the bride and groom missing
For sale cheap cries the auctioneer
And in the corner a pot-bellied oud
Bedecked with mother-of-pearl
Tamburi Cemil Bey on old 78s…

Bedri Rahmi Eyüpoğlu

Istanbul Gate of Felicity

World war years with the beauty of a frightened woman

When the good cheer kept vigil at the Kuzguncuk landing
Turned like the pessimistic cadets of kuleli toward sultan reshad
And no one was there for the last autumnal ferry
No helva vendors from beykoz or phonographs with odeon horns
Pouring out songs in an ancient mode only the captain’s cymbals
Alla turca made in yildiz and lifted from the bazaars

İstanbul straits with the sulkiness of a wounded vulture

When monocled german officers argued at kramer’s beerhouse
Moltke versus bismarck in their fissured tongue
Downing three bitter dark green doubles of pilsen beer
Torpedo net heroes rich in numbers as the imperial band
Return to the galician front under the cold russian rain
Swept night and day by long range battery fire
Red crescent tents blossoming like wet flowers
Enormous flowers of extremely bloodstained white
Back to the galician front the operetta remedy

In ikdam false news of victory on the syrian front

At the ministry of war the commander in chief enver pasha
With colonel suleyman of military secret intelligence
Knows nothing of how time passes until morning worship
In the unfiltered glass-shattering darkness of a cellar
Before an execution the nervous motions of prayer
Of cowardly shadows in bekiraga prison
The sticky sweat crawling on yakub jemil’s temples
The torn union and progress membership card on the floor
The rattle of a mauser being loaded the order to shoot
The lilacs fade life lightning in the water jug there is no cure

Those world war years with the beauty of a frightened woman

Attila İlhan

I hope you enjoyed reading this collection of poems and quotes about the magical city of Istanbul. If you know any more inspiring quotes or poems and you think it should be added to the list let us know in the comments so we can keep updating this post.

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