The nargile, or Turkish water pipe, has been for centuries an icon of Eastern cafe culture!
It originated in India by empting a coconut and dipping in a straw. In the 16th century, during the Ottoman empire became part of the Turkish culture. Back then was used as a status symbol…and smoking with the Sultan was considered the highest honor. It was such an important Turkish custom that even sparked diplomatic crisis with France!
During the WWI, smoking the nargile became less popular, because of the arrival of cigarettes. But the late 1990s marked again its revival!
In the Middle East and Arab world, people smoke waterpipes as part of their culture and traditions! In Istanbul and in other places in Turkey, it’s very common to come across with people who relax and chat with friends while smoking and drinking tea or turkish coffee!
In the old days only plain tobacco was used in nargile. However, nowadays a variety of aromatic tobaccos are available. So the first thing you have to do when you visit a nargile coffee shop is to choose a flavor! Apple, strawberry, banana, peach, mint, pomegranate and plenty more…
It takes about 1-1,5 hours to smoke a water pipe and of course it is nothing like smoking a cigarette! A totaly different experience which you definitely must try…
Some notes while smoking
- Don’t smoke deep puffs like you do with the cigarette
- Smoke in a well ventilated place because of the carbon monoxide hazard
- Always keep the nargile on the floor, never put it on an elevated level
Where to Smoke
Some famous places are:
- Erenler Nargile – This cafe is located at Çorlulu Alipaşa Medresesi in Çemberlitaş. It can hold up to 200 people and of course has a lovely garden. Besides plain and aromatic nargile, you can also enjoy an array of teas and soft drinks
- Nargilem Kafe – This cafe sits next to Nusretiye Mosque with a nice garden. However, check out also the inside area with its attractive decoration and ceiling engravings. Both plain and aromatic tobaccos are available, as well as various kinds of tea and strong Turkish coffee
- Erzurum Nargile – This is one of Istanbul’s oldest nargile cafes, and was previously located under the old Galata Bridge. Just before the turn of the century the bridge needed renovation, so the cafe moved to Tophane. Like other nargile cafes in Tophane, it is open 24 hours a day
- Can Nargile – This Tophane cafe is relatively new to Istanbul nargile scene. They serve aromatic tobaccos, strong coffee as well as some Turkish snacks. The cafe is open 24 hours a day