Of all the places to visit in Istanbul, the city’s bazaars are the most intriguing. You could spend hours wandering around the maze of alleyways in these Istanbul bazaars, such as the Spice Bazaar where there are spice shops selling herbs, soaps and dried fruit. But shopping in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is an experience to remember.
The Grand Bazaar is a huge shopping precinct, with various bazaars and a myriad of interesting Grand Bazaar shops under one roof.
How old is the Grand Bazaar?
The market was constructed in the 1660s as part of the Yeni Camii complex where the rent from the shops supports the upkeep of the mosque.
The Grand Bazaar is a shopaholic’s Mecca. The labyrinth of domed roofed laneways, its oldest part dates back to the 15th century, is virtually a city within a city with mosques, banks, cafés, restaurants and over 4000 shops.
What is the atmosphere like?
I feel like a kid in a candy shop. The maze of alleyways has rows of shops selling leather coats, jewellery and carpets. The Grand Bazaar has a far more intriguing atmosphere than a large modern shopping mall.
There are other shops with pretty glass lamps, replica Ottoman weapons, mother-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes and hand-painted ceramic bowls.
It feels almost surreal, a bit like you’re in a movie set. I wander around for hours until I’m utterly lost.
The arching hallways are packed with throngs of shoppers and merchants who try to lure me into the shops.
What to avoid in the Grand Bazaar?
Unless you really know your carpets, steer clear of the carpet dealers in the Grand Bazaar.
Most of these guys are professional salespeople and it’s easy to get hooked up in the emotion of the moment.
The range of carpets is pretty extensive and includes pure wool Anatolian carpets, silk Kayseri carpets, hand-spun wool and silk carpets.
You can pay as little as $40 for a small carpet to thousands of Turkish new lira for an antique carpet.
What gifts can I buy in the Grand Bazaar?
Other great gifts include cotton bed linen, woollen throw rugs from Eastern Turkey, hand-painted tiles, plates, cups and bowls along with antique Ottoman jewellery.
The Grand Bazaar is a jumble of organised chaos but if you look carefully, shops are loosely arranged by street and many shops sell similar products. There’s a jewellery section with gold chains and bracelets displayed in shop windows.
Grand Bazaar Hours
The Grand Bazaar is open Monday to Saturdays from 8.30 am to 5 pm but it’s closed on Sundays, religious holidays and public holidays. The bazaar is located in Fatih. For more information go here.