With more than 4000 shops and 61 streets, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the world’s largest covered markets. It is located in the Faith district of Istanbul on the European side. It has a historic network of streets and indoor souks where you will find everything. The Bazaar is also one of the best places to get great deals in the city.
The market’s history goes back a long time. After the Ottomans took control of Constantinople around 1456, the central portion of the Bazaar started to be constructed. The main purpose was to get trade to flourish in the city. There is debate amongst scholars as to when exactly the marketplace structure was built. But there is general consensus that in the 15th century, it started off as a cloth market, a market where slaves were bought and sold, and a market for second-hand goods. But by the beginning of the 17th century, it had already emerged as one of the largest centers of Mediterranean trade. Learn more about the history of the market.
The Grand Bazaar today is a top tourist attraction in Istanbul. It is visited by 250,000 to 400,000 people daily. It provides employment to over 26,000. Even with shopping malls and departmental stores, the Grand Bazaar has remained extremely popular, both with the locals and tourists.
In the past, each street of the Grand Bazaar was lined with shops selling a specific item like a Spice Street, Carpet Street etc.
Items sold at this huge market include carpets, jewelry, lanterns, tea, spices, antiques, made-to-order bespoke handicrafts, and textiles. Read our detailed guide for the city of Istanbul.
Grand Bazaar – Quick Facts
|Location||Faith district in the European section of Istanbul, close to the Topkapi Palace and the Blue Mosque.|
|Address||Beyazıt Mh., Kalpakçılar Cd. No:22, 34126 Fatih/İstanbul|
|How to Reach||Tram Station: Beyazid|
IETT Bus Station: Beyazit
|Open Times||Monday to Saturday – 9 AM to 7 PM|
Closed on Sundays
|What to Buy||Spices, Lanterns, Carpets, Jewelry, Silks.|
- Getting through the entire Bazaar will take a lot of time. If you know what you want to buy, just ask for the area in the market where you will get it. You will be able to save time. Of course, most tourists will just want to walk through the sprawling network of lanes and indoor souks, looking at the colorful market.
- Chat up with the shopkeepers. Most shopkeepers speak many languages and like to engage with their foreign customers.
- If you are offered tea at a shop in the Grand Bazaar it does not mean you have to make a purchase. It is the Turkish way of welcoming visitors.
- Bargaining and haggling are common here. Remember, there are many shops side by side selling the same or similar goods. The shopkeepers are quite used to it.
- You can enter a shop, spend time checking out the merchandise. You can leave if you do not like what you see or find the price too high. The shopkeepers are not offended.
- Try to look disinterested even when you come across something you would really like to buy. Continue looking at other items and then casually ask for the price.
- When asked for the ‘best price’ always quote a figure that is below what you would actually be willing to pay. Remember, the shopkeeper will bargain with you too.
Top 4 Places To Eat At The Grand Bazaar
1. Aynen Dürüm located in a narrow alley offers delicious meats wrapped in flatbread. Very easy to pick up one and walk while you eat.
2. Asnaf is a small restaurant in the Grand Bazaar serving traditional home-cooked hot and cold dishes. You get a good variety here. The décor is not their strong point, but the flavor is very good.
3. For vegetarians there is Havuzulu. It is a traditional tradesmen restaurant with many options.
4. Do not miss a cup of strong Turkish coffee to recharge your batteries at Şark Kahvesi.