Istanbul is famous for many of her cultural diversity, but the bazaars could be one of the oldest. Take the Grand Bazaar for instance, constructed back at 1461, this is the oldest and one of the largest covered markets in the world. For centuries, the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul has been the biggest marketplace of the world. Let’s follow the trails of this Istanbul tradition until today.
Grand Bazaar: Constructed in 1461, the Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı), The Grand Bazaar is a must-see attraction for all İstanbul visitors. A center of authentic jewels, exquisite textiles, finest silk shawls, pottery, famous Turkish carpets, antiques, spices, lanterns, leather goods and all sorts of souvenirs, the area consists labyrinthine streets, passageways and corridors featuring 64 streets, around 5,000 shops and 22 entrances at a total of 45.000 square meters.
Today’s Grand Bazaar is not only a unique shopping destination but also a great historical site that, by walking through its lively streets, you can enjoy an unforgettable day enchanting scents of the spices, impressive handicrafts, Turkish delight and the tempting smell of the Turkish coffee.
Spice Bazaar: The historical Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı in Turkish) or simply the Spice Market is probably the second most famous historical bazaar of İstanbul. Built by the early 1660’s, the bazaar gets its name from the revenues collected from Egypt, which was an Ottoman administrative division of the time. Since its beginning the bazaar served as the main market of spices coming from all around Turkey and the world.
Eminönü coastal area, where the Spice Bazaar is located, has been a busy market area since the Byzantine period. Busy trade activity is not surprising in this region, which is one of the central points of the city wall in the historical peninsula of Istanbul for those times when the sea has an important place in trade. As Ptokhoprodromos (a famous Greek poet of the early 12th century) has stated in an article, there is a spice market called Makron Envalos in the same place as the Egyptian Bazaar in the Byzantine period. The Modern Egyptian Bazaar mixed all the goods. It is impossible to say that only spices, sweets, teas and herbs are sold here. Here you will find Turkish ceramics, jewelry, souvenirs, textiles, fish, cheeses and much more.
Çiçek Pasajı: Today it may be known for its beer gardens and restaurants but the Çiçek Pasajı was built in 1876 had 24 shops designed in Parisian style, which was trendy at those times, and 18 luxurious apartments over the shops. The Passage formed by the shops was called “Hristaki Passage” and the building was called “Citè de Pera”. Acemyan’s tobacco shop, which was opened in the early stages of the Passage, Maison Parret and Valloury’s patisserie, Japanese shop, Natural florist, Pandelis’ flower shop, Schumacher’s bakery, Papadopulos’ bindery, Keserciyan’s tailor, Yorgo’s tavern and Sideris’ fur shop were a few of these 24 shops.
In 1908, when the ownership of the building was transferred to the Grand Vizier Sait Pasha, the passage took the name “Sait Pasha Passage”. In the years of the 1940 Armistice, florists began to settle in small shops in the passage. White Russian women, barons and duchesses fleeing the October Revolution were some of those who were selling flowers. When Cite de Pera started to be used as a flower auction area for a while, the florists in Beyoğlu gathered in the passage and the name of the passage was turned into the “Florists (Çiçekçiler) Passage”. After 1940, the beer and pubs took place in the passage; it gradually moved to a new apartment owners and florists to other places and only the name “flower” (çiçek) remained. The first tavern of the passage was opened by Yorgo Efendi. In the following period, the tavern was restored by taking into consideration the basic situation of the Flower Passage with the efforts of the Beautification and Survival Association. After the restoration in 1988, it was reopened as a tavern and in December 2005.
Arasta: Arasta Bazaar was also known as Sipahiler Bazaar at the time. The market with this name became ash as a result of a fire in 1912 because it was amongst the products for the Sipahis. As a result of the archaeological excavations carried out in the region in the 1930s, it was understood that the market was built on the structures dating from the Byzantine period. The market, which was restored by the General Directorate of Foundations in the 1980s, was reopened in line with its purpose.
Today, there are 70 shops in the Arasta Bazaar, although there are not as many shops and products as before. These shops also souvenir, Turkey Iznik tiles and describing the many products sold. What makes Arasta Market so important is not only shops. A museum, where the mosaics removed as a result of the archaeological excavations carried out in the 1930s are exhibited, opens its doors to the visitors in the market. You can see the most beautiful of the mosaic works in this museum, which is called the Great Palace Mosaic Museum or Arasta Market Mosaic Museum.
Sahaflar Çarşısı ( Sahaflar Bazaar / Used Books Bazaar): With a great selection of second-hand and antique books, The Sahaflar Bazaar, is located in the area between the Fesçiler Gate of the Grand Bazaar and the Beyazıt Mosque and is still known as Halicilar street (formerly Sahaflar street) in front of the Inner Bedesten in the Grand Bazaar. Antiquarianism began in Bursa around the time of Orhan Bey in the Ottoman period around great mosques and in the courtyards of these mosques. After a while, the state center moved to Edirne, its present location. Although Sahaflar Bazaar has lost its feature of being a cultural center today, it is often visited by book enthusiasts.
Turkey: Located in the Mediterranean and connecting Asia and Europe continents that are separated by the famous Bosphorus, Turkey is a unique destination that welcomed about 40 million tourists. The country that has always been a hub for cultural interaction and home to varying climates inspires the visitors today with its history, nature, and gastronomy that reflect the diversity of civilizations for centuries. Located at the crossroads of cultures, Turkey has a distinctive understanding of art & fashion which is the synthesis of tradition and modernity and its extremely dynamic shopping & entertainment life also attracts visitors from all over the world.