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With over four thousand shops and its incredible history, The Grand Bazaar is a must-see location in Istanbul. The Grand Bazaar, which was built by Sultan Mehmed between the years of 1455 and 1560, is Istanbul’s oldest covered market and it has been fully operational ever since the great Sultan built it.
As a visitor to Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar should be your go-to address to buy authentic handmade accessories, handmade carpets and organic Turkish spices. With Istanbul Tourist Pass as your guide, a visit to the Grand Bazaar is just a step away!
Check out our Guided Tours Timetable and add Grand Bazaar | Istanbul Tourist Pass to your Istanbul itinerary today!
Probably the best way to describe the Grand Bazaar is to quote Mark Twain – “We went to the Grand Bazaar in Stamboul, of course, and I Shall not describe it further than to say it is a monstrous hive of little shops – thousands. I should say – all under one roof, and cut up into innumerable little blocks by narrow streets which are arched overhead.” With more than 4000 shops on 64 streets and with 22 gates, the Grand Bazaar – or Kaparalı Çarşı as it is in Turkish -, looks like a labyrinth. We must say that this definitely is not a shopping tour – but a walk that will lead you through shops where they sell leather goods, sweets, dried fruit and spices, jewelry, glassware, pottery, fabrics, belly dancing costumes, t-shirts, and all sorts of souvenirs. We will visit workshops where you will see how gold is melted in a fire, as it has been for centuries; you will witness how the craftsmen fix degrees on carats; you will see how artisans do their engraving on silver.
There are 22 different gates and 60 streets inside Grand Bazaar hosting almost 4000 shops. If you think that it is a bit complicated to find the route, then you can start with Beyazıt Gate where famous jewelry shops are placed on both sides of Kalpakçılar Street vertically going indoors. Following this route brings you to the other main entrance on Nuruosmaniye Street, where you can visit interesting shops. If you wonder how far is Grand Bazaar from Blue Mosque, you can calculate the exact distance from different gates by checking the Istanbul city map online. For travelers who prefer going on foot, Blue Mosque is within a shorter walking distance from Beyazıt Gate. Another direction to check is Grand Bazaar to Spice Market Istanbul in the center of Eminönü. From Eminönü Gate of Grand Bazaar Istanbul, there are narrow alleys creating short-cuts to the well-known Spice Market. Istanbul Old City Tour is the best option if you would like to explore the area on a short-track tour with a specific focus on this oldest closed market.
The tips about the history of the Grand Bazaar answer two main questions: How old is Grand Bazaar Istanbul and when was the Grand Bazaar built? According to official records, İç Bedesten covering the core of the Grand Bazaar was completed by Fatih Sultan Mehmet in 1461. The building originally had two structures called ¨bedesten¨ which means an indoor arcade with shops. Throughout its history, the building has been expanded to have 4000 shops. Grand Bazaar is covered with a sprawling roof to make up a closed bazaar concept. Today, it is very dynamic with shop owners, travelers, visitors, and customers.
For shopping lovers, Grand Bazaar has got a wide selection of high-quality goods. If you need any advice on what to buy Grand Bazaar Istanbul offers you many traditional and very exclusive choices of jewelry, antiques, Turkish carpets, kilims, and leather products. The alternatives where to shop in Grand Bazaar depend on what to buy in Grand Bazaar. The shops near the Beyazıt entrance are the exact place to search for gold and silver jewelry pieces. These shops offer ready-to-use collections as well as order-to-make special designs. There are famous jewelry shops on Kalpakçılar Street.
If you prefer an ethnic kilim or a hand-made Turkish silk carpet, Zincirli Han and Sandal Bedesten have various shops to buy them. For antique collectors, İç Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten are the right places to find them. There are eighteenth and nineteenth-century antiques as well as vintage jewelry and smaller valuable items for collection. Leather shops are closer to the Mercan entrance of the historical complex. If you are interested in craftsmanship techniques, you can take a walk in the World’s Oldest Shopping Mall to attend particular workshops to figure out how gold is melted or how silver craftsmen work on their beautiful engravings.
For Grand Bazaar shoppers, it is strongly recommended to learn about how to bargain in Grand Bazaar. Grand Bazaar shopping tips start with bargaining which emerges from the nature of tradesmanship in the market. Thus, shoppers are always expected to try bargaining before deciding the price mutually. The best way to learn is to follow the experienced guide at Shopping in Grand Bazaar to take small tips to choose your present from original and authentic collections of carpet, jewelry, leather, or antiquities.
It is important to know what time Grand Bazaar opens in the morning and what time Grand Bazaar closes in the evening. The complex opens at 08.30 and closes at 19:00. So, you can visit and go shopping between these hours except for bank holidays. It is also good for visitors that there is no Grand Bazaar entrance fee though special tours including this building in their programs may have their own fees.
Another tip is about where to eat near Grand Bazaar. During the visit, you can have a relaxing break by trying some Turkish and oriental coffee flavors or just tasting Turkish tea served in traditional thin-waist glasses. There are very good restaurants inside the building as well as in the neighborhood area. Sultan’s Corner is a cozy restaurant serving healthy dishes of carefully selected local vegetables in a charming sitting area that reflects the Sultan’s magnificence. Nar Lokanta Istanbul is another good choice for lunch close to the Nuruosmaniye gate of the Grand Bazaar. It serves traditional Turkish and Ottoman culinary examples.
Tourists and locals spend hours and hours in this magnificent market and have a delightful time, it is normal to spend the whole day in the area since the bazaar is huge and covers many aspects.
The construction of the bazaar finished not so long after the conquest of Constantinople, and it was the center of the economy of the city, the bazaar had its golden period once it achieved its final shape when the Ottoman Empire was vast and spread out across three continents and controlled the trade routes between these continents both on land and sea. Which made the bazaar have many merchants, especially from Europe. The bazaar had been damaged by a strong earthquake in 1894, which was repaired in 1898.
Today, the bazaar is a huge, crowded shopping complex with over 400,000 visitors daily and is one of the major landmarks of the city. In fact, it still competes with the best outlets in Istanbul due to its vast range of shops and variety of different products. It has many sections, like Jewelry, textiles, Turkish food and delights, and many more products.
The bazaar is open every day from 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM except on Sundays and bank holidays.
Well for starters, it is recommended and normal to spend a whole day in the bazaar, since it offers many solutions to the locals and tourists, the main area of the bazaar is mainly crowded and crawling with shopping lovers, if you feel that you have a limited time, you may explore the area and get the products you desire since the main area have it all. You may also explore the surrounding areas of the bazaar because they are considered part of the bazaar as well.
The merchants in the bazaar are quite the professionals when it comes to bargaining, most of the merchants speak foreign languages, so bargaining your way through the bazaar is a must, just take your time while talking to them. If you still feel you are not pleased with the offer the merchant has given you, simply leave and find other stores with a better offer.
As mentioned, most of the merchants are professionals with bargaining, but some of them have different tactics of approaching you, if you see a product you do not want to buy and you know it is useless for you, the merchant sees this as an opportunity and try to sell you this product, since they believe the aggressive approach will make you go for the item you do not wish to buy, so it is pretty normal to just leave it there and move on.
The must-have products from the bazaar are many but we will bring them down to you, first of all, the jewelry, if you entered the Beyazit gate you will notice on both sides there are many shops for jewelry, and all of them offer plenty of beautiful pieces with reasonable prices.
Later on, you have the antiques which are the main reason why many people come to the famous bazaar, you have a wide selection of antiques to buy, like personal objects, mirrors, and many Ottoman-like items to have. In addition, if you are one of the people who have a special relationship with carpets, then you have come to the right place, the collection of carpets the shops have is outstanding, a range from Caucasian, Iranian, Anatolian carpets and many more.
The Grand Bazaar stands as a great monument since its construction during the Ottoman Empire, it stands as one of the best competitors for many outlets in the city of Istanbul. It has an amazing background and history to tell, you have many options and stores, and taking your time throughout the day is completely normal. Enjoy this wonderful monument.
To enjoy Istanbul fully, one should definitely lose oneself in the city, and blend oneself with the city. The Grand Bazaar is the perfect place for it. The Grand Bazaar is in fact a separate world within Istanbul. It is an active, crowded, inviting, and indispensable part of Istanbul. This bazaar attracts tourists from all over the world, and you can find not only glorious history but also antique dealers, jewelers, bag makers, leather shops, and carpet sellers –in short, everything imaginable.
Being the oldest and largest historical bazaar in the world, the Grand Bazaar was built on Sultan Fatih’s order to provide income for the Hagia Sophia. This historical bazaar is located between Nuruosmaniye and Beyazıt Mosques, Cevahir, and Sandal bedestens*. It has been a center for shopping ever since.* A bazaar in which valuable goods like clothes, jewelry, etc. are bought and sold.