The Sweet Scents of Turkey: Exploring the Country's Most Iconic Cologne Brands

  • 18 April 2023


If you have ever visited or spent time in Turkey, you have undoubtedly come across the Turks' love for cologne, known as "kolonya" in Turkish. Unlike the fancy perfumes purchased at designer shops or duty-free stores, kolonya is a whole different cultural entity in Turkey. It is a refreshing and disinfecting product that has been a prevailing tradition in the country since the Ottoman Empire, and it is so much more than just a personal care product due to its aromatics.

The main difference between perfume and kolonya, which is widely popular in Turkey, is the ratio of essential oils to alcohol. The latter can reach up to 80%, making it an excellent preventative measure for spreading viruses and bacteria. It could very well be Turkey's affinity for kolonya that has helped the country remain immune to the virus crisis for so long.

In practice, kolonya is drizzled onto the hands of guests upon entering a home or restaurant, or after finishing a meal. It is also offered to customers as they enter shops and especially barbershops. Even on long-distance buses in Turkey, every single person seated is given a drizzle of the ever-so-refreshing kolonya to wipe their hands and face.

The name "kolonya" comes from the German town of Cologne, but its usage in Turkish culture has always been quite unique. It is used as a sterilizing agent, antiseptic, and medicinal product that is even dribbled on sugar cubes to aid in digestion. Kolonya has been prevalent in Turkey since the Ottoman Empire and the reign of Abdülhamit II.

With its vast popularity and current high demand, it can be challenging to choose among the wide variety of reputable brands. Here is a guide to the variety of kolonya available in Turkey:

Turkish Cologne Brands


  • Atelier Rebul: One of the oldest cologne brands in Turkey, Atelier Rebul, was actually started by a French expat named Jean Cesar Reboul at his Grande Pharmacie Parisienne, which he opened in Istanbul's Beyoğlu in 1895. The brand remains one of the most established purveyors of kolonya in Turkey.
  • Eyüp Sabri Tuncer: Founded in 1923 in Ankara, the Eyüp Sabri Tuncer brand is considered to have created the lemon kolonya version we are most familiar with even today. These days, their brand is located in hundreds of shops throughout Turkey and has an impressive cologne selection, including a wide range of aromas devoted to specific spots in Istanbul.
  • Selin: Selin is said to be the first brand to produce kolonya in Turkish history. It first hit the market in 1912 in Izmir as Altın Damlası Kolonyası (Golden Drop Cologne) and was made at the historical Şifa Eczanesi in Kemeraltı by Süleyman Ferit Eczacıbaşı. The cologne became a prestigious gift given by anyone visiting Izmir.
  • Pereja: Pereja is another nostalgic brand of cologne made at a huge factory, which had a grand opening when it was established in Bahçelievler in 1967. Their lemon fragranced kolonya remains one of the most symbolic icons of Turkey from the '70s and beyond.
  • Duru: Established in 1927 in Erzurum, Duru is another well-known kolonya brand in Turkey that has stood the test of time. Operating today from a 350,000 square-meter facility in Istanbul, Duru has branched out into a variety of personal care products and brands, including the Arko brand