As you step into the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, you will be transported to another world. It has been an important trading center since it was built in the 13th century when the city was named Constantinople, serving as the imperial capital of the Romans and Byzantines. Today, it is one of the largest covered markets in the world, home to more than 3,000 shops on over 60 streets. It is estimated that 400,000 people make their way to this iconic bazaar every day.
At the heart of the old cityTraders and people looking for the finest wares have been coming to the Grand Bazaar from all over the world since Roman and Byzantine times. Historically, the traders came to deal in silks, furs, spices and exotic goods. Today, you are more likely to discover traditional Turkish delights, ornamental carpets, copperware, amber prayer beads, candlesticks and silver and gold jewelry. As you walk the narrow streets of the Grand Bazaar, be sure to peep through doorways to discover hidden inns, diverge down narrow lanes to watch the artisans at work and drink lots of tea. You will be treated to a shopping experience unlike anything you have ever experienced before.
Tips for visiting the marketIf you are visiting Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar for the first time, we are happy to provide you with some helpful tips for you to make the most of your visit.
- Bargain – this is expected by stall holders, who will likely inflate their prices and want you to negotiate them down
- Go early – with close to 400,000 visitors a day the Grand Bazaar can get particularly busy at the hottest times of the day, so go early to avoid crowding
- Have some tea – there are many cafés where you can enjoy a refreshing cup of tea and some delicious Turkish delights. While rose and lemon flavored delights are the most common, also try some of the more exotic flavors
- Be savvy – unless you are buying an antique or something truly unique, you may want to buy elsewhere as you often find similar items cheaper outside the bazaar.