If you’ve done any research on Istanbul, you’ve probably already come across Grand Bazaar and for good reason. When it comes to markets, this isn’t your average car boot sale – you won’t be able to cover the whole market in ten minutes.
Instead, it’s considered to be one of the largest ever covered markets. To give you some idea of the sheer size, let’s look at some numbers;
- 61 covered streets
- Up to 400,000 visitors on the busiest days
- Approximately 92 million visitors per year
- Around 4,000 different shops
- 26,000 employees
From these statistics alone, you should now understand the reason why the word ‘Grand’ is no understatement for the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey.
History Of Grand Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Located in the ‘Fatih’ district, the famous covered market doesn’t just have its reputation because of size. Construction for what would become the core of Grand Bazaar began in the middle of the 15th century, not long after Constantinople’s fall.
In the coming decades and even centuries, various sultans extended the market depending on specialities. Originally, this space was dedicated to the trading of jewels and textiles. Over time, sections were added for books, luxury goods, and more.
According to historians, the final shape we see today was achieved around 1730. For the Ottoman Empire, the bazaar actually became one of the focal points for all Mediterranean trade since their control spanned three continents.
Thanks to various documents and letters, we know that Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey had a reputation for travellers all around Europe; this continued right up until the 19th century.
Since the very first market opened, several incidents have plagued the bazaar including several fires and even an earthquake in 1894. Thankfully, there’s been no major incident since this earthquake and the health and safety regulations have been improved for the safety of all visitors.
Grand Bazaar Shopping
If you’re looking for souvenirs for friends and family back home (and maybe some lucky colleagues!), the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul Turkey is a superb choice because you’ll also be able to tell your friends about the experience. If you do visit, we recommend taking some time to appreciate the architecture of the covered market as well as bartering for great deals.
In terms of visiting times, you won’t need to rush because the bazaar is open from 09:00 right the way through to 19:00 (these hours are limited or non-existent for bank holidays and Sundays). What about the shops themselves? With around 4,000 shops in the whole complex, we couldn’t possibly explain everything you could buy with your money. This being said, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy antiques, furniture, carpets, food, clothing, and stunning handmade gifts.
If we may finish with some advice, don’t forget your camera. Although this may sound strange, and you will have to be careful where you take your shots, some incredible photos can be achieved with the vibrant colours inside the market.
Furthermore, it can take some time just to get used to the layout of it all so don’t visit with the intention of only staying an hour – make sure you have plenty of time otherwise you might walk away disappointed that you couldn’t fully immerse yourself into the experience.
For purchasing advice, we could write a whole guide but we have some simple tips below;
- Never give the seller your best price
- You’ll get discount for bulk purchases
- Don’t provide the seller with too much information (the more money they think you have, the more expensive even simple products will become!)
- Be willing to walk away (they probably want the sale more than you want the purchase)
- Don’t ever feel pressured into a purchase
- Above all else, enjoy your time in this magnificent setting!