in Sightseeing

It smells faintly of dust and old cardboard as I stroll through the stacks of records in Deform Music. The floorboards squeak beneath my feet as I go from one row to the next. I am searching for something specific – one record. I can feel my mind focusing  as my hands touch each sleeve and my eyes quickly glance at the artists. My heart speeds up when I find what I am looking for: an LP by Selda Bağcan. This second-hand vinyl record contains Turkish psychedelic rock and a glimpse into ’70s Turkey.

Vinyl records may be a thing of the past, but nostalgia lasts forever. The feeling of owning a vinyl record never wears off for me because there’s a certain physical investment involved. I can see, feel, and touch the record with my own hands instead of reading words that appear on my computer screen. As the crackle of the radio begins, I become more engaged and the record feels even more real. Listening to music on a record player is an entirely different experience to listening to an MP3 or CD even. You need a willingness to be patient when searching for new records and it never hurts to have a group of friends surrounding you as you sit back and soak up the melody.

For music lovers, a visit to one of these record stores may well be a defining Istanbul moment!

Vinyl records changed society, and I’m not just talking about Western society. Turkey has its own music history dating back thousands of years, but the record scene also made its mark on Turkish musical history. The 1970s can be described as a time for Turkish psychedelic artists in the age of funk and rock fusion. Some of Turkey’s most popular music icons thrived in this decade. Some of my favorites include:

Photo Credit: İklim Arsiya

Barış Manço was a Turkish singer, poet and TV celebrity. His ’70s Anatolian psychedelic funk and meaningful lyrics still resonate with Turks across the country.

The superstar, Ajda Pekkan, is not only known in Turkey, but in France and Germany with her first albums being in translated into different languages. She is Turkey’s first pop singer and represented Turkey at the Eurovision Contest in 1980.
My personal favorite Turkish psychedelic rock artist is Selda Bağcan. Her tunes remind me of Jimi Hendrix, with electrifying chords on the guitar.
Other famous classical Turkish artists include Zeki Mürenthe most famous Turkish singer that you’re likely to hear played if you go to a meyhane restaurant, and Orhan Gencebay, a multi-instrumentalist singer, director, and actor.

Photo Credit: Time Out Istanbul

If you’re searching for modern Turkish pop artists, some of the most famous include Sezen Aksu, Ibrahim Tatlises, and the hugely popular Tarkan. Sezen Aksu, known as the Queen of Turkish pop, has sold over 40 million albums worldwide. Ibrahim Tatlises is a Turkish-Arabic singer with Kurdish origins. He was active throughout the ’80s and had an acting career in addition to singing. Tarzan Tevetoğlu, aka Tarkan, is the Prince of Pop in Turkish music culture. He is widely popular with young people and frequently uses romantic themes in his songs. The German born pop-star has international recognition, though he sings solely in Turkish.

Photo Credit: Elion Paz

Whenever I’m hunting for souvenirs, I always try to find something that speaks to a city’s true culture and not its tourism. Leaving Istanbul with an old school vinyl record will leave you feeling unique and on a high that no keychain or Turkish lamp can achieve. It’s a piece of memorabilia that identifies with Turkish people, Turkish music.

The Galata Record store, Analog Kültür, offers an escape off of the busy street.

Vinyl Shops in Istanbul:

Analog Kültür offers an intimate space to record search to your heart’s desire. This small boutique is located in Galata and has a great variety of contemporary and some classic Turkish records.

Deform Muzik sells second hand records and is located in the quaint district of Çukurcuma. It stocks diverse range of genres, including 50s and 60s soul, funk or rock as well as Turkish and international records.

Sitting right in Tünel Square, Lale Plak has a large stock of Turkish psychedelic music such as Barış Manço and  Ajda Pekkan. The store also sells new Turkish and international records.

Mandala Müzik Evi is hidden inside the Aslıhan Pasajı in Galatasaray. Mandala’s stock focuses on 1970s music, both Turkish and foreign.

Though Mono Plak has a wide variety of Eastern and Western classics and unique records. The store also specialises in folk, rock, jazz, and vintage Turkish music. It is located in Çukurcuma near Museum of the Innocence.

Opus 3A is in Cihangir and focuses on jazz, as well as legendary Turkish 70s pop icons with some rock and classical music.

Vintage Records has a vast collection of second-hand LPs from Turkish pop/rock of the 60s and 70s to English-language classic rock. The Kadıköy store also sells musical equipment.

Located on the basement level of the passageway Akmar Pasajı in Kadıköy, Zihni Müzik has one of the biggest collections of LPs in Istanbul. The stock offers over 9,000 records with most being second-hand.

Zoltan Records sells a variety of records but focuses on Turkish psychedelic, while also selling artwork. The store is located in Kadıköy.

Look out for the album listening events held at Kontraplak. This hip Galatasary record store nestles in amongst the bars, restaurants and boutiques of Yeniçarşı Caddesi.

BONUS: Below you can find a bonus mix – special thanks to Esra Yalçınalp for this discovery.


From Philadelphia but expatriate living in Istanbul! Spanish speaker. Painter. Runner. Outdoors explorer. Foodie at heart and passion for all things adventure.