I have already written about Ramadan and the city a few times. One of the other must-see/experience Ramadan celebrations are at Feshane.
Feshane is an international fair center at the coast of Haliç. It is founded over an area of 56,000 sqm. Although it is being used as a fair center today, Feshane was initially used as a production center, a factory, in the early 19th century. Feshane was established in 1839 by the Sultan Abdülmecid for the purpose of developing “Fes”s and cloaks. Although not worn anymore “fes” was the typical hat of the Turkish men worn in the 19th century.
Feshane is thus the first industrial establishment in the history of Ottoman Sovereign. In 1986 the establishment has been restored and today it is used as a fair center and an arena reserved for celebrations such as the Ramadan.
Ramadan celebrations at Feshane are entirely for the public. The gatherings are for the sole purpose of celebrating the iftar in a commune as in the past. Thus, there are many different stands preparing and selling affordable iftar dinners. Gözleme (Turkish rectangular wrap with cheese, potato, spinach or minced meat) and ayran (Turkish drink made from yogurt) meals are one of the most favorable takeaway options. There are also various kumpir stands selling baked potatoes that you choose to fill with ingredients of your choice.
There are also seating areas and restaurants with a few tables. Such restaurants usually cook the traditional Turkish meals with meat. Meat in a sizzling pot is one of the most favorite, followed by raw meatballs with spices. Most iftar meals cost here around 10 to 15 TRY per person -including the drinks. Therefore a family of 4 can easily open their fast for 40 to 60 TRY.
Following the iftar, there are numerous activities and events at Feshane. Each night is a reason for a new event and a new celebration. From famous artists’ concerts to traditional puppet performances, there is almost always something going on. Folk songs night and live concerts by folk singers are among the most popular events. Puppet performances are loved by children and adults alike. Especially the Karagöz-Hacivat shows are very in-demand.
Karagöz and Hacivat are two characters from folk tales. They have made their way into traditional folk culture and tales and then onto the stage as puppets. Karagöz is a mischievous and sly character that loves to bother and anger Hacivat. Hacivat is the reverse of Karagöz. He is a decent man trying to lead a decent life. Their tales and adventures as staged by a puppet operator make everyone feel the nostalgia of the old times as they laugh to the interplay of the incorrigible Karagöz and the desperate Hacivat (desperate from trying to lead Karagöz into the right path).
Apart from the shows staged during the night, there are also exhibitions all day long. The calligraphy works are one of the exhibitions. There are also several stands like an open market selling accessories. Bracelets, earrings, Ottoman motifs, decorative pieces are the most popular stand items on sale.
One of the most popular entertainments at the Feshane are the photograph stands, where one can dress up like an Ottoman Sultan or Lady and pose. You may even see TV people posing to the camera to show audiences the spirit of Feshane and Ramadan.
Finally, there are merry-go-rounds and play areas for children. It is therefore also a very kid-friendly place. After the iftar hour, many people start to wonder around the open market area, whilst families with kids rush to the play ground. Snacks are also sold during after iftar hours. Feshane thus offers a total experience of Ramadan for families, singles and couples alike.