Let it be said right away – the Turks have not always been fond of neither recycling, flea markets or antiques. In fact, I have often experienced outright disgust if the talk has gone on precisely those topics. As if it was a bit dirty and at least not wanted.
But it’s a bit like that the attitude is slowly changing. Although it is not just as hip as in Denmark, where flea markets and recycling shops are very popular, the Turks can now see something interesting about it.
Istanbul, Izmir and other major cities have always been a bit more hip and here the interest has been there for several years.
And it is understandable, because precisely Turkey has oceans to offer. Just say the Ottomans and all the empire time…. Not to mention the many different crafts, that have been cultivated for decades with rugs, pillows, porcelain, tin, copper, Islamic calligraphy, etc., etc.
Turkey has witnessed the beginning and end of several different empires, cultural attitudes and religious beliefs. So it’s no surprise, that flea markets and antique shops have plenty to offer from different eras and decades. And much of it is just gathered in Istanbul and the largest cities in the country.
Seek and you shall find:
For several years I was crazy about finding “something exciting”, whatever it was. I was just really curious to see, what you could buy and how old things could be, when the country had such a magnificent history. I have been brought up with fleas and antiques, and have been towed around in various markets as a child. So you can probably say, that I am a bit harmed by the environment.
The times I have been on holiday alone with my mother-in-law, we also found some good things. Especially in Ankara, we were inside the world’s weirdest little messy shop. Which turned out to have the most amazing antiques. And in Alacati at Cesme, the shops are lying next to each other with all their nice things.
But in Antalya many years would have to pass before real business with old things came. Probably one or two have been there, but well hidden. But now they are not that hard to find.
Flea Markets and Antiques in Antalya:
I have actually found several businesses, that have become very interesting.
By a coincidence, I fell over a fairly large store even in the middle of Kaleici, which has quickly turn to be my favorite. They really have all sorts of mysterious things. Mirrors, water pipes, dishes, bowls, coffee kettles, tiles, backgammon games, etc. A pure Aladin’s cave.
Now that might sound like a messy affair. And so it is. But there is almost a guarantee to find something exciting.
You just have to pay attention. Not everything that shines is gold. And not everything that has dust and wear marks is old. So … have your common sense and eyes with you.
At least I came home with some slightly older serving dishes and a couple of tiles that were quite new, but with nice old patterns printed.
There are quite a few antique shops in the Kaleici area. But one has to keep a little eye out for them. Otherwise, there are also more flea-like shops just outside the old town in the area of the Sky Kamer Hotel. And they are also quite pleasant to visit.
Punishment and export of antiques:
But be careful! Because even if you find the most wonderful things, that you just must have, you may not be able to bring it along. Yes, in fact, there can be a very high risk, that your fine items will be confiscated in customs, and that you could end up with a huge fine and imprisonment of up to 12 years.
In 2002, a law was passed, that would severely punish people for trying to export antiques out of the country. Atleast if you didn’t have the right permits.
And there have been numerous examples of the law being enforced to that extent. Most recently, a man from England was arrested and had to pay a fine of several thousand dollars and received a prison sentence of 8 months, I think it was. And they often do checks at the airport, browse and open your suitcase at the slightest suspicion. Believe me – I’ve tried it.
The rules are a little tricky. Because while it is not illegal to sell you antiques in Turkey, do not bring them out of the country (unless you have a special permit). It says everywhere at the airport, but if you are unlucky, your vendor may not repeat it to you. So you have to keep that in mind yourself.
There is an opportunity to get your antiques out of the country, if you get a museum to look at the things and write a piece of paper on which they write, that you may well export the item. Maybe your salesperson can do the same too. But if you are really unlucky, you can risk things being confiscated anyway (possibly by the museum) if the historical value is considered to be especially big.
And this applies to everything from coins, to blankets, pillows, porcelain, jewelry, marble, coral and much more.
A question about price:
So basically it’s too cumbersome to just try. But fortunately there are lots of things, that are under 100 years old which are also beautiful. And you can easily take them home with you.
Besides, the really old antiques, the ones that are maybe both 2 and 300 years old are really expensive, so it’s a matter of interest as the prices are really high, if it is to be genuine.
Export of antiques
Here are some guidelines to help you to hopefully not end up in trouble:
• An antique is understood as any object – copper, silver, rug, kelim or ceramic and is more than 100 years old.
• To take an antique out of the country, you need a museum certificate – sometimes known as an experti in Turkish because it is prepared by an expert.
• Any reputable merchant must be willing to get this certificate for you. It usually takes a few days.
• Antique marble pieces and coins always attract the attention of customs inspectors, even if you have expertise. So be prepared for a delay.
• Ancient antiques – that is, archaeological finds such as small statues from the Greek, Roman or Byzantine period and even certain Ottoman antiques, such as daggers and knives, are considered museum pieces and are likely to be confiscated.
• Never try to get experti yourself. It can backfire. Any object brought to a museum by an outsider is, as a rule, suspecious (and will therefore possibly be confiscated).
• It may be wise to get an experti for items that are old but not antique, so that they will not be confiscated during passport control.