Smoking Nargile/Hookah in IstanbulThere are many associations we have for hookah pipes, but none are more powerful and attractive than the longstanding tradition of smoking tobacco found here in Turkey. Called a nargile, this manner of smoking tobacco is a deeply rooted practice, especially popular during the Ottoman Empire, from the 17th to 19th centuries.

Making a Strong Comeback

The popularity of cigarettes diminished the use of the nargile for a while, with mostly old men using it after World War II. But things have changed and the hookah has made a strong comeback with Shisha bars turning up on almost every corner here in Istanbul.

A Mainstay of Turkish Culture

Youth culture especially has grabbed on to the idea of sitting around the nargile to enjoy an intimate chat, people watch, and sip a Turkish coffee or tea while partaking of a round of flavored tobacco. Spending hours lounging around a pipe is part of the charm of Istanbul and a mainstay of Turkish culture as people find that this is a wonderful way to connect with friends while taking time out of a busy day to just relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

A Variety of Flavored Tobacco

There are many different types of flavored tobacco such as apple, cherry, melon, orange, banana, mint, and even coffee. Order a mixture, such as mint and apple for a delicious combination that ignites the tastebuds!

How it Works

The mechanics behind smoking a nargile is that tobacco is piped through water or sometimes even juice for extra flavor. The bottle section, or govde, which is usually colored and etched or painted with lovely designs, is half filled with liquid. A long, flexible hose, or marpuc, is placed inside, often embellished with beadwork or embroidery, accompanied by a mouthpiece, called an agizlik or sipsi, which can be made of fine porcelain or amber, sometimes even inset with gems. Included is a cup-shaped bowl, or lule, that holds the tobacco, and a small metal tray to catch stray cinders.

Take One Home

Though there are now mass manufacturing techniques for nargile, the authentic ones are produced by craftsmen who are named after the particular piece they produce. Easily found in the Grand and Spice Bazaars as well as specialty shops, you can buy your own to bring home as a true representation of Turkish culture. New or antique, you will be taking home a memory of your Istanbul experience to share with friends and family.

The Rules

Here are a few “rules” that we Istanbullians hold dear when it comes to smoking:

  • A nargile should always be placed on the floor
  • Never pass the agizlik to another person, but instead put it down for it to be picked up by the next person
  • Never light a cigarette on the coals

Contact Us Today

Our concierge is full of recommendations when it comes to enjoying authentic Turkish culture. Hotel Buyuk Keban is conveniently located near many of this cities’ famous attractions and cultural hubs. Contact us today to learn more or book your stay today!