Abstract This paper examines contrasting planning cultures in Turkey based on the observation of a more architectural conception of planning and a more managerial conception of planning. The intention of this paper is to explore the credibility of this observation, although it is recognised that it is one that will only be fully justified through further empirical work. The differing conceptions are apparent in the planning cultures of the two major cities of Turkey where planners are approaching outwardly similar problems in significantly different ways. Istanbul is following a traditional masterplan-led approach, heavily dependant on improving the environmental and visual qualities but one that remains relatively oblivious of dynamic economic and social impacts. Ankara is pursuing an approach that seeks to understand the dynamic forces of change and to direct them towards more beneficial ends. It is suggested that the differing cultures have arisen as a result of professional backgrounds, education and the approach to practice. To examine these issues, this paper looks at the development of the Turkish planning system, the development of planning education and the planning profession to provide a background to the contrasting planning cultures and practices in Istanbul and Ankara.