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A Complete Guide to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

11th January 2019

Istanbul Grand Bazaar is high up on the list of things to do when visiting the city.  The enormous area is the largest covered market in the world.

It’s quite easy to get lost in the endless stalls, paths and narrow streets.  With so much to choose from it’s a good idea to shop around.

The Grand Bazaar covers 30,700 square meters with over 60 streets and alleys and 4,000 shops.  The original bazaar was built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. Originally called a ‘bedesten’ which is an indoor market with shops.

The Grand Bazaar has expanded over the years to become a mass of narrow sprawling alleys.  The Ottoman traveller Evliye Çelebi Seyahat wrote that the Grand Bazaar reached its current size by the seventeenth century.

To cater for the many merchants that worked in the Grand Bazaar there are restaurants, a hammam, mosque and prayer rooms.  Today there is also a police station, health dispensary, post office, banks and tourist information centre.

Turkish street names are very descriptive, the street names within the Grand Bazaar refer to their original functions.  ‘Takkeciler Caddesi is literally ‘skullcap makers street’ each street name would refer to the merchants that occupied them.

The Grand Bazaar is still one of the best places to get a feel of life in the Ottoman- era in Turkey.

Opening days:

The Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays and Turkish public holidays.

The carpet shop called Zincirli Han is a perfect example of era’s gone by and can be found near Terzinbaşi Sokak.

Due to the size of the Grand Bazaar it is almost impossible to see it all in one day, it’s probably best to spread visits out to get the best experience.

 Haggling is the norm and most traders will speak another language, feel free to barter and if you are not happy walk away to another stall.

It’s often worth asking locals if you get the opportunity for recommendations.

Whether you are looking for gifts, antiques, jewellery, spices or just souvenirs the Grand Bazaar Istanbul has it all and is a truly Turkish experience.

 

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