The Road Less Travelled: (Well Not Really) Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
Today’s a picture day, especially given that the subject of this post is Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. I figure a photo will speak more than 1,000 characters and besides, any well-heeled tourist or expat knows that if they visit Istanbul, two stops they must make include the Grand Bazaar and its little sister Spice.
The Spice (Egyptian) Bazaar, located in Fatih is the second largest covered shopping complex in Istanbul. The bazaar is open every day of the week and has been operational since 1664. It’s where vendors sell an array of mouth watering food and drink with nuts, breads, coffee, tea, fish, spices, dried fruits and – of course – Turkish delights at every turn. Aside from food there are trinkets available for purchase: oils and perfumes, coasters and jewelry boxes. What I found most interesting is the bazaar (thanks Wikipedia) is part of the neighbouring New Mosque and bazaar shopkeepers are responsible for paying a fee that goes towards the maintenance of the mosque. How’s that for community participation?
The Grand Bazaar is the daddy of all Turkish markets. Established in 1461, this shopping complex has over 5,000 shops and is said to be one of the largest covered markets in the world. The bazaar averages between 250,000 – 400,000 visitors daily and is a treasure trove of antiques carpets, ceramics, leather, spices, jewelry, textiles, silver, gold, water pipes and a host of other things you didn’t even know you needed. Stalls are grouped according to the type of good sold, and along with countless material items the bazaar is also home to a couple of hammams, several fountains, and a handful of cafés and restaurants for good measure.
As with any market, come with an empty stomach, a keen eye, comfortable walking shoes and the mindset that you will barter with a shopkeeper as if your life depended on it. Because there will be a moment when you’re certain you need that antique silver platter or hand (possibly machine) woven carpet in all shades of crimson.
In all, have fun, haggle hard and go home before the exhaustion and/or annoyance sets in.
The Egyptian or Spice Bazaar (Yeni Camii Meydanı, Fatih, next to the New Mosque) is open daily from 08.00 till 19:00. Closed Sundays and religious/bank holidays.
The Grand Bazaar (Divanyolu Caddesi 42, Sultanahmet) is open every day of the week from 07:00 – 19:00. The market is closed Sundays and religious/bank holidays.