For many, they’re drawn to Istanbul because they like the idea of being caught between two continents. Therefore, a trip to the Bosphorus Istanbul is a must. As a natural strait, the Bosphorus stretches for around 20 miles and it connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea.

In other words, it is the small stretch of water that connects Asia and Europe. For Turkey, this means the middle ground between Asian Turkey and European Turkey. 

As well as being significant for Turkey, this narrow strait has significance for the whole world because it also connects the Aegean, Dardanelles, and Mediterranean seas.

Without this narrow strait (the world’s narrowest for international navigation purposes), the international landscape in terms of politics and trade would be very different. 

Geographical Importance 

Why is this narrow stretch of water so important to so many countries? Because it allows a passage from the Black Sea all the way to the Indian Ocean (via the Suez Canal) as well as the Atlantic Ocean (via Gibraltar).

For example, Russia relies on this strait being accessible to receive goods from various countries. If conflict were to be seen and the strait closed, Russia would have a significant percentage of their incoming goods blocked. 

With great power comes great responsibility, and control over this stretch of water has been one of much debate through the centuries. The Bosphorus Istanbul is the only way the Mediterranean and Black Seas connect, so it has both military and commercial importance; it also allows Russia and Ukraine to access major seas.

In addition to the Russo-Turkish War in the 19th century, this strait was important for Allied Powers to attack the Dardanelles in WWI.

Today, both the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits (together named the Turkish Straits) are integral to oil exports from Russia. After travelling through, the Russian oil reaches Western Europe and even the US. 

Visiting the Bosphorus Istanbul 

As well as the history and geographical importance of the Bosphorus, it’s also a beautiful location to visit while in Istanbul. Running through the heart of the city, it has three large bridges and passes a number of Ottoman palaces, the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, and various hills and villages (all boasting stunning Ottoman architecture). 

In total, over 600 waterfront houses sit on the Asian and European shoreline and the palaces within view include Feriye, Topkapi, Hatice Sultan, Yildiz, Dolmabahce, and Adile Sultan. Elsewhere, a number of landmarks can be seen (depending on your location on the Bosphorus) such as Yoros Castle, Maiden’s Tower, Borusan Museum of Contemporary Art, Galatasaray University, and the Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University.

When visiting, we recommend planning exactly where you wish to go beforehand to prevent extremely long walks and disappointment. Fortunately, there are plenty of touring companies that will guide you around and highlight the main sites.

Also, public and private boats traverse the strait each day and will point out the major sites in the area if this is a route that appeals to you. 

For local inhabitants, the Bosphorus is a popular area and you’ll quickly see why when visiting. During the summer months, the climate is appealing and the shores are filled with beautiful neighbourhoods, parks, hotels, cafes, restaurants, gardens, and much more.

If you plan on continuing your research, we recommend looking for the following neighbourhoods; Sariyer, Besiktas, Bebek, Tarabya, Ortakoy, Rumelihisar, and Arnavutkoy. 

With a day dedicated to Bosphorus Istanbul, you can enjoy your time between two continents and the many fantastic sights and sites it has to offer!

Let us plan your Istanbul trip that includes a visit to the Bosphorus. Visit Istanbul with Classic Turkey Tours.

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When it comes to so-called bazaars in Istanbul, there’s no doubt that Grand Bazaar is the one that garners most attention from tourists as well as those just interested in the history of the city. However, if you’re looking for something with more color and a bit more vibrancy, you could just find the answer with Spice Bazaar Istanbul. 

Located in the Fatih district, the name of the bazaar is something that has undergone change over the years and it still holds different names to different people. For example, historians have found documents suggesting the bazaar started as the ‘New Bazaar’.

Over time, it became affectionately known as the Egyptian Bazaar due to the funding; the market was built in 1660 with revenue from the Ottoman eyalet of Egypt. 

What about Corn Bazaar? That’s right, it has another name in Corn Bazaar but this is due to a mistake. In Turkish, a single word (misir) means both ‘Egypt’ and ‘maize’ which is why many started calling the complex Corn Bazaar mistakenly (this has since stuck!).

Now, it generally goes by the name of Spice Bazaar in the Western world because this is exactly what you’ll find when you visit…plenty of different spices. 

History Of Spice Bazaar 

Before we launch into what you can expect today, let’s first discover some of the history of this iconic location. Firstly, the building is within the same complex as the New Mosque and this played an important role in the early years. Why? Because the upkeep of the mosque would be paid for by revenue from the shops inside the bazaar. 

If you visit Istanbul, you’re likely to hear about the Great Fire of 1660. Lasting for more than 48 hours, this fire caused devastation for several neighbourhoods…but it also led to much redevelopment across the city.

Not only did the New Mosque undergo construction, but plans for the Spice Bazaar were also approved and commissioned by Sultan Turhan Hatice. As you may discover during your stay in the city, this was the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan) of Sultan Mehmed IV. 

For generations, and still today, the Spice Bazaar was the place to go for spices not just in this district but right across the city. However, some traditions are being lost and other stores are starting to replace the spice shops. 

Spice Bazaar Istanbul Today 

In total, there are 85 shops inside Spice Bazaar that sell traditional spices, sweets, Turkish delight, dried fruits, nuts, and other foods. Elsewhere, catering to the tourist market, the bazaar has expanded over the years to include jewellery and souvenirs. 

As mentioned previously, one of the things you’re likely to notice immediately is the vibrancy and colours that reach the eyes as soon as you enter the bazaar. The building really is a feast for the eyes, and you’ll also get some brilliant shots with your camera if you choose to visit.

While shopping around and exploring the different vendors, don’t forget to look up and around because the beautiful architecture is also worth your attention. 

If you want to buy, you’ll find that some products are marked but they tend to be higher than spice shops elsewhere in the city which means sellers expect you to haggle.

If you don’t feel comfortable touring alone, there are plenty of companies that’ll take you on a guided tour of the city and include Spice Bazaar. 

Finally, the complex will be open from 09:00 until 19:00 every single day (except for public and religious holidays). For an experience of colour and history (maybe even taste), Spice Bazaar Istanbul will not disappoint.

Let us plan your Istanbul trip that includes a visit to the Spice Bazaar. Visit Istanbul with Classic Turkey Tours.

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