Fragrant spices, colorful oil lamps and hand-made cloths: spread out over 60 streets and almost 5,000 shops of the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered marketplace in the world offers an enormous selection of goods. Nowhere else in Turkey will you see such a wonderful reflection of the typical melting pot of the Turkish culture, hospitality and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Turks. The amazingly polylingual sellers are all anxious to reassure you that you do not have to buy... Just drink a glass of tea while you browse through leather goods, carpets, fabric, clothing, brassware, furniture, ceramics, and gold and silver jewelry.
At the beginning of the 17th century, the covered Grand Bazaar was the place where all Mediterranean merchandise was brought together. To really soak up the mystical atmosphere of old Istanbul, let yourself get lost in the labyrinth of covered streets.
Amidst the labyrinth of alleys are two ‘bedestens’, dome-shaped market buildings, which were built in 1455 by order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The high-walled Cevahir Bedesten in the heart of the bazaar is still the place where the most valuable merchandise is sold, such as antiques. During the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Great in the 16th century, the bazaar was greatly expanded.
The covered market complex stretches over an area of 31 hectares and encompasses thousands of shops, cafés and restaurants, and special architectural elements. There are two old mosques and four fountains covered with beautiful mosaics. The bazaar also has two 14th-century hamams. The Oruculer Hamam, only accessible to men, is one of the best and cleanest hamams in Istanbul.
In Turkish, the Grand Bazaar is also known as Kapalıçarşı, which means ‘covered bazaar’. The market was not only covered to operate under all weather conditions, but also to protect the merchandise against theft. Even today, the bazaar is completely sealed off at the end of each market day.
One of the things that have changed over time is the use of light. In the past, merchants only used natural light; oil lamps and fires were prohibited due to fire hazard. Trade began early in the morning when the first rays of sunshine seeped in through the high windows under the domed roofs and continued until sunset. The artisans and merchants are clustered around streets that are named after their wares – that is how streets emerged with names such as Helmet Makers, Napkin Makers and Quilt Makers.
We may easily name the Grand Bazaar as a complete city under one roof. Do you want to discover the Grand Bazaar city?