Local markets are one of my favourite things to visit whilst abroad, and birds are my favourite animal. So when I found out there was a bird market in Istanbul, Turkey, I knew I had to go. This particular bird market, or kuş pazarı in Turkish, is held every Sunday in the Edirnekapı district of Fatih. Here is the exact location on Google Maps.
At this market you will mainly find pigeons, all sorts of beautiful, unique pigeons. Apparently some are sold for as high as ₺10 000 lira, which at the time of writing is about $500 USD! Pigeon keeping and racing is a popular hobby in Istanbul. I have always loved pigeons, I think they are a beautiful bird. Unfortunately, in most places around the world they are given a bad rap. Turkish people are known for being very kind to animals and this was definitely felt at the market.
Upon entering, it was very apparent that I was the only tourist and the only woman around. Pigeon keeping seems to be a man's hobby around here. But this was all good, the locals were all extremely welcoming. Most vendors had no problems with me photographing them and their pigeons. Many were even excited to show off their most prized birds. Although the language barrier made it difficult to ask for more detailed information about the birds, many smiles and laughs were exchanged.
Here are my favourite photos from when I visited in July 2022:
What beautiful birds! I had never seen so many variations of pigeons before.
The market takes place near some ancient wall ruins that date back to the 5th century!
This particular pigeon got to wear a cute necklace, I wonder why?
Inanc here was super friendly, he insisted that I hold one of his pigeons for a photo. In many markets around the world, tourists coming to take photographs are somewhat looked down upon, so it was really nice to be welcomed by the locals here. Everyone seemed very happy to share this part of their culture.
Have you ever seen a more beautiful pigeon? Just look at those feet!
The market seemed to be just as much of a social gathering. Men gather here every Sunday to chat and share some food and drinks. I was offered both by a couple vendors, which was very nice of them.
A vendor inspects his pigeon.
This pigeon had a beautiful tail and it almost seemed like he was posing to show it off.
I believe these are doves? Pigeons and doves are closely related.
Such beautiful iridescent collars they have.
Another vendor very happy to show off his bird.
This pigeon had a very long neck and nose.
More bird-holding and picture-taking!
These pigeons were so plump and cute. And I love their feathered feet.
As with anywhere, please always ask before you photograph people.