Istanbul's Grand Bazaar
Whether you’re a shopper or not, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar will amaze you with the number of stalls and the massive range of goods that can be found here. For most of us tourists who need to bring home gifts or souvenirs for friends and family, you’ll find something for all in this Aladdin’s cave of retail shops.
The district itself seems to have enjoyed some increased prosperity and development, with the main street to the bazaar being converted into a smart pedestrian precinct. Luxury shops and cafes line both sides of the boulevard and there are smart street benches where tourists and locals alike are able to relax under leafy plain trees.
The Grand Bazaar claims to be the oldest covered bazaar in the world, and with sixty lanes of approximately 3,000 shops, it’s no wonder that it also claims the distinction of being the largest bazaar. We’ve been here about four times now and have only managed to cover a small portion of the Bazaar.
In the old days, each lane 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!
The main street of the Bazaar is lined with jewelry shops and the glitter from all the gold and diamond is enough to dazzle you. Prices vary and bargaining is customary in these shops. If you intend buying jewelry, it’s important to compare prices in a few shops to get a sense of what a reasonable price might be. I bought a lovely gold necklace on a previous trip and a ring last year so this time around I was able to resist the temptation, especially with the current escalated gold price.
In some of the side lanes we noticed lots of funky new cafes where you could take a refreshing break, and this is a vast improvement from previous visits.
Although crowded and bustling, the Grand Bazaar is a fun place to visit as shop owners beckon you into their stores with promises of the best quality goods and prices. Even if you’re not buying the kaleidescope of colours and range of goods available make it an enjoyable viewing experience.