A Historical, Geographical and Shopping Perspective of The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar, IstanbulWith 64 streets, 11 gates, and 4,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. The total area is around 40,000 square meters. With just over 91 million visitors a year, in 2014 the Grand Bazaar was chosen as the most-visited tourist destination in the world. The number of daily visitors varies between 250,000 and 400,000. It is certainly a “must-visit” destination in Istanbul.

Situated inside the Walled City of Istanbul in the Fatih District is the Grand Bazaar, also known as the Kapalıçarşı. This amazing market creates a lasting impression on visitors. Nestled between the mosques of Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye, it offers easy tram access from Sirkecim and Sultanahmet.

An Ultimate Shopping Destination

You can find almost anything you want in the Grand Bazaar whether its beautiful rugs and carpets, the finest silky shawls, rare antiques, leather goods, top-quality spices, beautiful ceramics, stunning handicraft, or stylish jewelry, a visit to the Grand Bazaar is a must. It is also the centre for gold and foreign exchange in Turkey.

A Site of Great Historical Relevance

This impressive covered market is not only a shopping destination but also a historical site. When you first enter the Grand Bazaar the atmosphere hits you and you feel like you have stepped back in time. Here you can enjoy and experience the captivating taste of Turkish delight, the magical smell of the spices, the alluring aroma of Turkish coffee and the vibrant colours that surround you that all combine to create a unique experience and certainly one that you will never forget.

A Brief Overview of Grand Bazaar History

The historical roots of the Grand Bazaar date back to the 15th century during the Byzantium period. There were only a small number of shops in this area during that period. After the conquest of Istanbul by Sultan Mehmet II, the development of the area gained momentum. Between 1456 and 1461 (Ottoman Era), the bazaar was widened with several constructions. This became known as the Big Market. It was primarily a popular trade centre for fabric and textiles which also included carpets and rugs.

In the early part of the 16th century, another building was constructed in the same district to promote the trade of luxury goods. Soon this area became a centre of trade and commerce and consequently many more shops opened. It was known as the “hub of Mediterranean trade” in the 17th century. Surviving many natural disasters and fire-related accidents, the Grand Bazaar continued to be the most popular marketplace to buy a stunning range of top-quality goods until the first half of the19th century.

The earthquake in 1894 destroyed most of the buildings. With this natural disaster, the Grand Bazaar started losing some of its prominence. During this period, part of the building was used as an auction house, especially for carpets and rugs. Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid II initiated the reconstruction of the market to restore it to its former glory. The last restoration project of the bazaar was performed in 1980.