Turkey is famous for its ceramics and tiles which we traditionally call “Iznik ceramics” named after the city where it was produced. This decorative pottery has been made by the Iznik masters during 200 years in 15-17 centuries. At the end of 15th century craftsmen have used blue and white colors and combined traditional Ottoman style with Chinese elements.
In 16th century its design has been changed and dark blue was combined with a turquoise and green and purple were added. And traditional design was changed into more natural style, roses, tulips, lilies have appeared. In 17th century pottery production in Iznik has decreased and Kütahya has become the leader city in producing ceramics. Craftsmen of Kütahya became to design their tiles with yellow, red, green and black colors.
Nowadays you can see original Iznik ceramics in tiles in mosques, tombs, palaces. For example, in Istanbul it is Rustem Pasa Mosque, Sokollu Mehmet Pasa Mosque, the Topkapı Palace and others. Traditional Iznik ceramics are classified as antiquities and can’t be bought and exported out of Turkey. “Iznik ceramics” that are sold now are produced in Kütahya and they are imitations of traditional Iznik ware but still they produce excellent quality plates, bowls, tiles, cups, vases, pitchers, ashtrays and other items in different colors and styles. Prices range from a dollar to several hundred dollars depending on the size and quality of the product.
So where can you find and buy ceramics in Istanbul? Obviously in the Grand Bazaar, there is a district that specializes in ceramics and tiles. Also check Arasta Bazaar which has a couple of ceramic stores as well. Don’t forget to bargain as it is an important part of doing shopping in Istanbul. Usually merchants will give you the price which can be reduced to the half. And pay attention to the signs on the bottom of the item, if you buy a very cheap one, it might be made in China.