The Grand Bazaar


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Middle East » Turkey » Marmara » Istanbul
August 27th 2011
Published: September 2nd 2011
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Bazaar GatesBazaar GatesBazaar Gates

It's going to take me a long time to learn my way around the bazaar. For now I just try to remember which gate I came in at.
The Grand Bazaar is amazing. It was established in 1453 by Mehmet II and the architecture is almost my favorite part. It is one giant building, the size of several city blocks, surrounded by a medieval wall with 15 gates (as far as I can tell). The gates are all numbered and my favorite area was around gate 12. It is a quiet area, but compared with the rest of the bazaar anything would be. There are antique shops, precious gem merchants and beads sold by the gram.

Each area of the bazaar has a different specialty. There are some items that are sold throughout the bazaar, but some shops are located in only one part. In the section with leather works you can easily go from shop to shop, comparing colors, style, quality and price before settling down to bargain with a merchant. I bought a round leather footrest, which was fun to bargain for. By the end of my stay in Morocco I grew to like haggling over prices and was so disappointed to go back to shopping in American grocery stores where nobody would let me argue the price of tomatoes.

I am back in a
Architecture and OrganizationArchitecture and OrganizationArchitecture and Organization

I am very impressed by the orderly signs, layout, cleanliness and general beauty of the bazaar.
country where buying things is more time consuming, which probably cuts down on excess spending and consumerism. It was more fun to walk through the bazaar and look at everything that to go in all the shops to try to buy stuff. The jewelry area was so glittery we had to wander down a side alley where they sold scarves and other textiles. The carpets are beautiful and the ceramics are incredible. I managed not to buy any, but I made a mental note of what I’m going back for. I’ll have to take a backpack with me because carrying heavy pottery all the way back to my apartment would wear my arms out.

In some ways the Grand Bazaar reminded me of the souk in Marrakech. There was a musical instrument shop very similar to the one my cousin Isaac looked for a guitar at in Morocco. The scarves and tourist trinkets were similar. It was the building that was so different. The souk is a maze, while the bazaar is well laid out with clean, tiled passages in a fairly grid-like pattern. The ceilings are vaulted and lined with mosaics. The fountains are obviously ancient and look
The EyeThe EyeThe Eye

It looks kitschy and touristy, but everybody here has them. All the Turkish teachers I know have an eye on their car's rearview mirror or a bracelet or something. It wards off evil like the khamisa in Morocco.
like they were meant for washing before prayers.

We wandered for hours and though we passed through many alleys repeatedly, I am sure there are still plenty of places we didn’t get to. I’ll just have to go back.


Additional photos below
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Music ShopMusic Shop
Music Shop

This is the shop that reminded me of when my cousin Isaac came to visit Morocco.
Boots!Boots!
Boots!

I had heard that the Grand Bazaar has amazing embroidered boots and that I would know them when I saw them.
The International FeelThe International Feel
The International Feel

I couldn't find a Moroccan flag, but it was still fun to see so many countries represented. Everybody is welcome in Istanbul!


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