Famous Bazaars of Turkey!
The best markets and bazaars in Istanbul are scattered all over the city. Either open every day or held once a week, these markets are the places to haggle with vendors to buy a range of Istanbul’s best goods on the cheap, including farm-fresh produce, organic products, affordable souvenirs, leather handbags, clothes, and more. The neighborhood weekly bazaars are the places to go to shop, pay local prices, and nab the best bargains in Istanbul.
The Grand Bazaar, or Kapalicarsi (covered bazaar) in Turkish, is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. They built it of wood after the Conquest of Istanbul around an old Byzantine building which became the part of Old Bedesten (Old Bazaar) today and got bigger and larger throughout the centuries with the addition of new sections and inns. The Bazaar initially consisted of two warehouses only known as Inner Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten. Later on open streets were covered with doomed roofs, and separate buildings connected to each other. Today it covers an area of approximately 31 thousand square meters with its over 3000 shops (some even say 4000), 17 inns (Han), 61 streets, over 20thousand employees, 4 fountains, 10 wells, 2 mosques, several cafes and restaurants, change offices, a police station, and 22 gates. It resembles a giant labyrinth and can be a little complicated for the first-time visitor, but after a couple of visits there you can familiarize with it because streets are arranged almost on a grid plan, and shops tend to group themselves according to the type of goods they sell.
Since the Fatih district is in the historical part of Istanbul, it offers the oldest and also the biggest marketplace of the city. Locals mostly refer to it as Çarşamba Pazarı, since Çarşamba (Wednesday) is the market day. It is open between 5 am and 9 pm. Around 1290 vendors, 4800 stands and about 2500 peddlers compose this market on the 7 main and 17 smaller historic streets of Fatih. Needless to say that Fatih bazaar is an esteemed market, where you can find almost anything ranging from fruit, vegetables, and clothing, too many household materials. Another bonus for tourists is that it offers a great a magnificent opportunity the real middle-class local life.
The Egyptian Bazaar, or Misir Carsisi in Turkish, called Spice Market. It’s located just behind the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu district, at the entrance of the Golden Horn. They originally made the Bazaar of wood in mid-17th century by the architect Kazim Aga, and got its final restorations during mid-forties. The name comes from the fact that Egyptians used to sell their spices here and that it once received income from taxes levied on Egypt. Instead, the English name comes from the days when the Bazaar specialized in selling spices and herbs, medicinal plants and drugs. Lately there are also shops selling stuff other than spices but you can still see and smell many interesting spices, dried fruits and nuts, teas, oils and essences, sweets, honeycombs, and aphrodisiacs.
The Spice Market has 86 shops inside and there stands a plant market on one side and a food market on the other. There are 6 gates on an L-shaped Bazaar. The ceiling is a higher respect to Grand Bazaar and they also cover this with domes.
The Egyptian Bazaar is open daily between 09:00-19.00 except during public or religious holidays. Since 2009 the bazaar stays open on Sundays too, between 10:00-18:00.
Another highly respected Wednesday market, this time in Yeşilköy (literally translated ‘green village’). We know the area for its relatively greener and upper class setting. You can find an array of top quality products in this well-organized market place. Yeşilköy pazarı covers 12 thousand square meters with 2000 stalls, floral displays, scattered tea cafes, and toilet facilities. Most stalls accept credit cards, but prices may high compared to other markets.
The Arasta Bazaar, also known as Sipahi Carsisi in Turkish, is located behind the Blue Mosque in the old city center, just next to the entrance of the Mosaics Museum. Despite the Grand Bazaar, Arasta Bazaar is a small and simple traditional market in Istanbul. There are about 40 shops lined on both sides of a street, selling traditional items. Originally this place was built in the 17th century and used to be stables during the Ottoman period. It suffered damage from many fires and left in ruins for a long period. In the eighties it was converted into shops, permitting the money from rents to be used in the restoration works of the Blue Mosque.
The Arasta Bazaar is open daily.
Sahaflar Carsisi, the second-hand books bazaar, stands in the old courtyard between Beyazid Mosque and the Grand Bazaar. It’s one of the old markets of Istanbul built on the same site as the Chartoprateia, book and paper market of the Byzantines. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that booksellers settled their shops here leaving the Grand Bazaar. Printing and publishing legislation introduced soon after thus enabling the trade to expand in the whole courtyard. Also during this century, the market remained the primary point for book sales within the Ottoman Empire, and a gathering place for intellectual people.
Unfortunately, in the last 50-60 years the market lost its importance due to the inevitable rise of modern bookstores and lately the internet. Today there are still some old books, new ones, and examples of Ottoman miniature pages can be found.
The Sahaflar Bazaar is open daily except on Sundays and during public or religious holidays, except for smaller stores.
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