The Grand Bazaar is One of the Largest Covered Markets (Kapali Carsi) in the World:
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is grand indeed. With 60 covered streets and up to 4,000 shops, it is no wonder that this sprawling covered market (Kapali Carsi) holds the distinction of being the largest covered market in Istanbul.
Interesting Facts About the Grand Bazaar
Construction of the Grand Bazaar began in 1455 and it opened for business in 1461, making it one of the oldest covered bazaars in the world. Apart from the shops, there are also 2195 workshops, not to mention the many restaurants and funky new cafes that have sprung up over the years.
Within the Grand Bazaar complex there are also 18 fountains and 2 bedestens (vaulted and waterproofed areas of the bazaar where valuable goods are kept). And for the traders and their families, there are 40 inns, 12 small mosques, 12 warehouses, 1 school, 1 bath, and 19 water wells.
In the old days, each street was reserved for a different trade or profession and the handicrafts produced here were rigorously controlled. Business ethics and traditions were strictly adhered to and the tradesmen commanded so much respect and trust that people used to ask them to safeguard or invest their money. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case!
Shopping at the Grand Bazaar
If you are planning to shop in Istanbul, it makes sense to start your shopping expedition at the Grand Bazaar as you’ll most probably find everything you need here – costume jewelry, scarves, clothing, coloured glass lights, copper and brassware, leather, carpets and just about anything. The main street of the Bazaar is lined with jewelry shops and enough gold, diamond and glitter to dazzle anyone. If you need to pick up gifts or souvenirs for friends and family, the Grand Bazaar is a good place to do your gift shopping.
Bargaining is Customary
Prices vary from shop to shop and bargaining (pazalik) is customary. Be prepared to bargain hard or you can be assured of having paid too much. If you intend buying expensive jewelry, it’s advisable to compare prices in a few shops to get a sense of what a reasonable price might be. As the gold price is universal, what makes your jewelry cheaper in Istanbul is the cost of workmanship. Before gold got to today’s crazy level, I bought a beautiful 24-carat gold necklace here and didn’t have to declare bankruptcy.
Although crowded and bustling, the Grand Bazaar is a fun place to visit. The shop owners all try to entice you into their stores with promises of the best quality goods and prices. Be warned that the moment you show any interest, you’ll have them on your tail until you firmly tell them that you have no intention to buy.
The Grand Bazaar is open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 – 19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays
- Take a tram to Beyazit, Üniversite or Sirkeci.
- The Grand Bazaar is around 15 minutes walk from the Hagia Sophia/Blue Mosque area.