Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is one of the world’s largest covered markets, spread over 60 streets and containing over 3000 shops of jewelry, textiles, pottery, glazed tiles, bronze, leather and carpets.
The Grand Bazaar is also one of the oldest of its kind, with roots stretching back to the 15th century. Its first ‘bedestan’ (domed building) was built in 1455 on the orders of Sultan Mehmet I. In the 16th century, it was expanded by Suleiman the Magnificent. During its history, the Grand Bazaar has seen damage from fires and most significantly, an earthquake in 1894.
The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, moth
er-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery.
Its subsequent restoration ensured it remained intact and today, its marvellous labyrinthine structure is said to attract up to 400,000 people each day. It’s said that this early version of a shopping mall is the largest concentration of stores under one roof anywhere in the world.
Many people visit the Grand Bazaar to marvel at its beautiful interior and mind-boggling array of shops. But, of course, there’s plenty to buy here too, with certain sectors of the market specialising in different goods.
Yeniçeriler Cad. and Çadircilar Cad., Istanbul
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 9:00 – 19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.