Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı): shopping and history at one place
Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest markets in the world. Located in old historical district of Istanbul — Beyazit, Kapalıçarşı was one of the most important places and mechanism in Ottoman Empire. It was a considerable part of economy and daily life in Ottoman times.
The construction of Kapalıçarşı started in 1455-56 as a bedesten which was named as Cevâhir Bedestan or «Bedesten of Gems». It’s final shape Grand Bazaar achieved in 17th century.
Grand Bazaar had seen earthquakes, fires, wars and disasters, but it still stands today as a unique place which continues to function. Now, as many years ago, in Grand Bazaar, people can buy gold and silver, diamonds and different stones, carpets and antiques.
Grand Bazar: history and structure
Regarded as one of the biggest and most talked about bazaars on the planet, the Grand Bazaar is 30,700 square meters with more than 65 avenues and rear entryways and 4,000 shops. The first recorded centre of the bazaar, Iç Bedesten, was finished by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. A «bedesten» refers to an in-door arcade with shops and there are many areas of the bazaar called by this name.
In Ottoman times people could get inside this huge market by using 11 entrances: Beyazıt (entrance near Beyazit mosque), Çarşıkapı, Çuhacıhan (broadcloth seller’s door), Kuyumcular (where gold and silver shops are located), Mahmutpaşa, Nuruosmaniye (near the Nuruosmaniye mosque), Örücüler (the «knitters» door), Sepetçihan (sepetçi means «basket maker»), Takkeciler («skullcup makers» entrance), Tavukpazarı (tavuk (chiken)+pazar(market)) и Zenneciler (the sseler of shoes and clothing for woman).
Can you imagine how many shops and places there are inside of Grand Bazaar? Here is a little review:
- 4400 souvenir and sales shops;
- 2200 tailoring services;
- 18 fountains;
- 13 mosques;
- 11 warehouses;
- 50 cafes;
- 9 exchange points;
- unknown number of living room and areas 🙂
- 1 cemetery.
The bazaar has been expanded over the years from a center of just two bedestens to a bobbling complex with thousands of shops and trade’s men inn’s and workshops known as hans.
Furthermore, there were other facilities for traders who came to trade in the market: Restaurants, relaxation centres, mosque, and at least 10 prayer rooms. That’s not all, this city inside a-city contains a police headquarters, a clinic, a mail station, branches of top banks, and a visitor data focus.
When compared to the street names in the English speaking countries, the street names in Turkey are very detailed and the street names in grand bazaar is not an exception.
- Takkeciler Caddesi is literally «Skullcap-creators’ Street» as takke means skullcap;
- Aynacılar Sokak was for dealers of ayna, or mirrors;
- Halıcılar Caddesi was the place halı, or rugs, were sold;
- Keseciler Caddesi was for sellers of the kese, the harsh peeling fabric used in a hammam.
Today, the Grand bazaar may no longer be the commercial centre of Istanbul, but it remains one of the best spot to get a taste of life in the Ottoman-era Turkey.
The Grand bazaar main area has 64 streets and 11 entrances. However, the whole bedesten section is also considered a part of the market. With the massive size of the Grand bazaar market it is very easy for visitors to miss their way. But hey! Missing your way is part of the amazing Bazaar experience.
If you’re working on a timeframe and do not have the time to parade the market, exploiting the area around your entrance gate might be helpful
It might be easier for Jewellery buyers to enter through the Beyazıt Gate and follow Kalpakcılar Caddesi, which is the main walkway that connects it with the Nuruosmaniye Gate.
Leaving the complex through that door will take you to Nuruosmaniye Caddesi, with many intriguing stores. Somewhere between Beyazıt and Nuruosmaniye Gates is Çarşıkapı Gate, which proves to be useful when you need the most straightforward approach to go over the whole complex.
Take your time to bargain, don’t be in a hurry
Attempting to see the whole Grand Bazaar in one evening is not a reasonable thing to do. Considering this, it is ideal to experience the Grand Bazaar at a comfortable pace and not buy jumping from one section of the market to the next. Talking and dealing with the sellers, who can speak different languages is one of the things that will make your Grand bazaar experience unique.
Countless stores lined up in one place selling similar products. This makes it easier for traders as they will have many options to choose from. Accepting tea does not necessarily mean you should buy from the traders, it is simply a way of saying welcome to visitors in Turkey. In other words, if you are not satisfied with the products, you can look elsewhere even after accepting the tea.
Keep Moving, Loitering is not allowed
In spite of the fact that the Grand Bazaar feels like a place of wonder, particularly for first-timers, you’re not allowed to be static and unbusy. Trust me, you will not have the time to be unbusy as you will have a lot to feed your eyes with at the Grand Bazaar. You will see that once you lay your hands on an item, whether or not you have the intention of getting the item, you will definitely have fun taking to the sellers as they are very friendly and welcoming.
The traders will never force you to buy their products, if you feel cheated or uncomfortable, you can simply move to the next shop.
Irrespective of the fact that the Grand Bazaar appears to have everything, you can only visit few shops as you cannot possibly buy everything in the market. And hey! You don’t have to worry about finding your needs. The market is well organized and you will find what you’re looking for in no time.
In the event that you are entering through the Beyazıt Gate, you won’t need to look far as the main walkway is filled with jewelry sellers. Although the jewelry shops might look similar, some shops will offer you better value than others. So take your time and visit at least five shops before making a decision.
Iç Bedesten is where you’d find most of the antique shops. Many traders in Istanbul sell things that look like antiques but they are not antiques. So finding a trustworthy shop that will offer you valuable antique products is important. Halaby Antiques is one such shop, serving its clients at the Grand Bazaar since 1880.
Eski Fine Arts and Antiques is another great spot which has three separate shops with a variety of nineteenth and twentieth century collectibles from different nations that were formally in the Ottoman Empire. Works of art, calligraphy, hookahs, backgammon sets, ocean froth funnels, and things made of silver, ivory, and golden are totally loaded in the lit glass shop show.
In the event that you advance outside the main complex towards the Çulhacı Han, you will discover Sait Asil, which deals totally on vintage silver objects for the home, many being sold as sets which ranges from candle holders to silverwares.
Carpets and kilims
Situated in the core of Zincirli Han, Şişko Osman is a fourth-age privately-run company offering a broad choice of floor coverings and kilims throughout the nation. Osman Şenel is the man and the name behind the organization, with an expert understanding of his trade.
Another great carpet store is Şengör. Named after the six ages of family proprietors, Şengör is a carpet store that boast vintage carpet designs that will take you back in time.
Shower robes, peştemals (Turkish towels utilized in hammams), and other customary things can be found by Oruculer Gate at Eğin Tekstil. Supported by local people for its exemplary approach and wide scope of items, the shop has been in existence since 1861. It sourced costume materials for Hollywood movies, including The Hobbit, Troy, The Last Samurai, and Pirates of the Caribbean.
One of the primary reasons the Turkish people like to visit the Grand Bazaar is because of the incredible customer service offered by the hans. While the store front shows ready-made goods, craftsmen have their workshop at the back of the hans. The skill of this craftsmen is passed from generation to generation. Modern-day jewelry makers draw their skills and inspirations from this century old tradition. This is why the city of Istanbul will never run short of jewelry craftsmen. And this also explains why Turkey is a hub for jewelry shoppers around the world.
During the days of the Ottoman, Istanbul craftsmen uses precious materials in making products. This further boast the image of the city as one of the best places for craftsmanship skills. Today, there are 5 groups of different items know to be authentic in Istanbul – pearls, gold, pieces with rose-cut diamonds, chains, belt buckles, and jewelries. Many craftsmen in Istanbul work on unique fresh designs while other work on designs based on customer request.
The Grand bazaar is no doubt one of the best shopping spots around the world. From jeweries to antiques down to designer cloths and materials, the Grand bazaar should be on your bucket list of places you will visit, if not, you will be missing out on an amazing shopping experience. If you’re a first timer in the market, get somebody that knows the way around the market to help you because you’re 90% likely to miss your way as the market is just too massive. Happy shopping!