Turkish Souvenirs: Istanbul Ceramic

We’ve been looking forward to doing this post for some time for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because of the visual effect – I’m a sucker for mixed, vivid colours. The second is because all these mixed, vivid colours spill from our friend’s shop in Kapalı Çarşısı (known as the Grand Bazaar or Covered Bazaar) in Istanbul.

Traditional Turkish Ceramics

Colourful Turkish ceramics in Istanbul

People who know Fethiye well will remember Necmi as the owner of the silver shop, opposite Deep Blue Bar in Paspatur. A couple of years back, he decided Istanbul was the city for him, and he and his family packed up and left for a new future in this most beautiful of cities.

Traditional Ceramics, Istanbul

Which would you choose?

He now owns a business in one of the most famous, historic shopping centres in the world, selling one of Turkey’s most famous souvenirs; hand-painted ceramics from Turkey’s ceramic capital, Kütahya. All are inspired by the historic ceramics produced in Iznik and Kütahya from the 14th Century onwards. They were highly prized by the Ottoman sultans.

Whenever we go to Istanbul now, woe betide if we don’t squash in a little visit to catch up with Necmi. Of course, trying to hunt him down in the maze of streets that make up the Grand Bazaar is a challenge itself and, when we went to see him in October, we gave up and phoned him. ‘Stay where you are. I’m coming to get you,’ was the reply. Easy when you know how; he was at our side within seconds.

Blue Ceramics, Istanbul

The blue collection is my favourite

When we lived in England, we had a few of these hand-painted plates and bowls that we’d brought back as souvenirs of our holidays in Turkey. Now we live here, we have yet to purchase any. But we do intend to change that. My favourites are the blue-coloured plates and vases in the photo above.

Of course these days, you can buy these famous Turkish souvenirs in all manner of shapes and sizes and Necmi’s business, Istanbul Ceramic, sells hand-painted ceramics to suit all budgets. Anything from fridge magnets starting at 1 TL (less than 40 pence) right up to beautiful, intricately painted floor vases coming in at an eye-watering 7,000 TL (around £2,600 at today’s rate). Of course, if you were to purchase one of those, we’re sure you’d get the fridge magnet thrown in for free!

  • Istanbul Seramik is on Çadırcılar Caddesi, Lütfullah Sokak (near the Lütfullah Gate) in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
  • If you’re not in Turkey but would like to purchase ceramics, you can view the Istanbul Ceramic website
  • And if you know Necmi from Fethiye and happen to be in Istanbul any time, he’d love you to drop in to say hello and drink a çay or three. You can give his shop a call on +90 212 518 64 07

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  1. I really love those Turkish ceramics…..I have a vast collection of them. In different sizes and shapes including wall clocks and a few magnets and bowls and plates…… Whenever I come over for a visit I always bring back a few pieces for myself and friends.They really are a work of art and so colourful.

  2. Stunning. I remember how badly I just wanted to take all these ceramics home – I still have a few favorites on my wall.

  3. Nice colourful article on a Sunday makes me want to take a walk around the Bazar and get some for the home. They really do brighten up a table and are great presents.

  4. @ Erica (Irene): They are really lovely gifts aren’t they? We usually buy some of the smaller items for friends when we go back to the UK.

    @ Belinda: Same here. Our problem is, we love all the huge, expensive vases – it;’s just not going to happen! 🙂

    @ Earthlaughsinflowers: They definitely decorate a room don’t they? The blue ones are a definite favourite for us.

  5. Kaya Koyu Walker says

    Not that I’m trying to take business away from Necmi, but Kütahya is well worth a visit if you’re thinking of buying a lot of ceramics. And if you’re thinking of buying tiles in bulk for a house or apartment you’ll be amazed at the prices quoted which can include delivery to Fethiye or anywhere else in Turkey.

  6. A beautiful series of images, showing off these wonderful colours and designs. I would love to visit the bazaar and this shop one day.

  7. what a nice post and stunning colours/patterns to the ceramic ware. This stuff gets me drooling!

  8. I have to be honest with you, I love those BLUE plates and bowls too!

    How come they are so blue?
    Blue clay?
    Or blue glaze?
    Or both? 😉

  9. Oh wow! These are stunningly beautiful! I love ceramics very much, but I’ve never seen Turkish ones before. These are beautiful. 🙂

  10. @ Kaya Koyu Walker: Necmi is a completely different business to that anyway. 🙂 We’ve been through Kütahya a few times but only in passing. Would like to hang around a bit more.

    @ Andrew Graeme Gould: There are loads of photography opportunities for Turkish souvenir shopping! 🙂

    @ Alan: Us too,especially when it;s all presented so beautifully too! 🙂

    @ London Caller: I’ll go for the glaze. I do have a website bookmarked about it all which I read occasionally but I always forget! 😉

    @ Rambling Tart: They are beautiful aren’t they? When you see a whole shop of ceramics you could spend hours in there, browsing. The problems come when you need to ask the price! 😉

  11. Oh my goodness, this was sooo amazing looking at all these wonderful pictures of the ceramics!! I wanted to jump through the screen and actually see them ‘real time’…the blue collection drew me in- but I can’t say it was my fav- it was hard to distinguish which was my favorite…as I just kept wanting to see it ALL. I have a tile from Morocco, which reminds me of the ceramic tiles I saw nestled amongst the bowls and plates- very similar patterns and colors.

    For some reason, when I was in Turkey- I ‘missed’ the ceramics- and not sure how I did that- or maybe I have forgotten- but I can’t imagine forgetting such glorious pieces!!

  12. @ Anjuli: Yes, very similar patterns to North African and Middle Eastern ceramics. Also similar to Chinese colours as the Ottomans loved the Chinese porcelain that came to the palaces along the silk route.

  13. Many thanks for your tips. We went to te Necmi shop as you suggested and they were all very nice, when I mentione your name and site they gave us a discount. But they are pretty much whole sale. I had a feeling they are not very keen on retail as their price is bit higher than the other shops. However, much easier to choose as they have more variety of the better quality items. Many thanks for the tips!!! Lol Paula s.

  14. @ Paula: Wow, thanks for taking the time to comment on the blog. Can’t believe you managed to find Necmi’s shop. We always get lost!:) Glad you got a discount from them. We have kind friends! 😉

  15. Very beautiful! One of my favorite things to do when I lived in Istanbul was to go by train from Yesilyurt to Sirkeci and walk downtown and browse all the shops! Thanks for bringing back some memories!

  16. Hi just wanted to knw is there anyway for me to purchase those ceramic plates online ? Thks

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