2020 is going to be a great year! Is there a way to guarantee it? Probably not, but rest assured, following some of these tried and true methods used by generations of Istanbulites to improve their fortunes and fulfill their wishes will undoubtedly improve the odds as the New Year approaches.
1. Wishing Column
A belief originating from the Byzantine times takes us to one of the most important landmarks of Istanbul—the almighty Hagia Sophia. The so-called Wishing Column is supposed to help heal those who put their thumbs in the hole in the middle of it, and manage to rotate the hand 360 degrees clockwise. Legend has it that when the Emperor Justinian leaned on the column, his migraine instantly disappeared.
2. Joshua’s Hill
The second best place to visit by those who want to ensure good health in the upcoming months is Joshua’s Hill in Beykoz —a complex possibly including the tomb of the Prophet Joshua and a mosque erected in his name. Visitors of many faiths come there to pray in order to be healed.
3. Basilica Cistern
Welcoming its visitors with magical and mysterious vibes, the Basilica Cistern is one of those places that make you believe in dreams coming true. Once there, head to the Wish Pool to toss a coin and make a wish for things you hope to come true. No wish is too big in this impressive space!
4. Evil eye bead
Evil eye bead (nazar boncuğu) is a well-known, classic talisman that will protect you from the envious looks of others on any given day. Although the most popular option is the classic navy blue bead, less common alternatives in red or turquoise are known to serve its purpose as well. Carry one as a part of your daily jewelry, or pin it to a bag, wallet, or jacket to keep the evil looks away throughout the year.
5. Ayın Biri Kilisesi
On the first day of every month, Ayın Biri Kilisesi in Vefa opens its doors to those who believe in the location’s manifesting and healing powers. There are two reasons to visit this place: the most important is the holy spring discovered first in the eleventh century, and then believed to be the reason for healing miracles among Istanbul’s Greek community from the eighteenth century onwards. However, some 20 years ago another tradition began: on the first day of the month, holding an intention dear to their hearts, people of all faiths flock to the church to pick up a key—a symbol of unlocking their wishes. There is no particular ritual that needs to be performed, however some choose to ask for a priest’s blessing, light a candle, or pray in front of every icon in the church. The only rule is that when the wish is fulfilled, the key should be returned to the church for others to use. Keep in mind that the queue to enter the church tends to be the longest on January 1.
6. Telli Baba
Considered one of the patron saints of the Bosphorus, Telli Baba is a Sufi saint who helps take care of Istanbulites’ love life. Wishing for a perfect partner, or hoping for your current partner to become “the one?” Before making any relationship commitments, head to Telli Baba’s tomb in Rumeli Kavağı and tie on a piece of tinsel to ensure luck in love, and relationship happiness.
7. Monastery of Saint George
A practice similar to the one at Vefa orthodox church is observed on April 23 and September 24 each year at Büyükada’s Greek Orthodox Monastery of Saint George. The first date commemorates the church’s patron Saint George, and the latter —another Anatolia-born saint, Saint Thecla, both of whom were believed to be miracle workers. The most important practice is to take the intention in person to the monastery, located on top of the island’s highest hill. Many believe that the route should be walked in complete silence and barefoot, while others choose to tie a thread at the bottom of the hill and walk with it all the way to the church. Whichever practice speaks to you the most, that’s probably the best way to do it.