Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Istanbul Attraction: Grand Bazaar

Whether you plan to shop or not there are a few reasons why you should not miss visiting Grand Bazaar if you happen to be in Istanbul. Firstly it is the oldest covered markets in the world being established as early as 1461. Secondly it is one of the largest markets in the world with 64 covered lanes, 4000 shops, and nearly 500 stalls. Last but not least it sells a diverse range of interesting authentic Turkish merchandise which you can feast your eyes on or even consider buying home as souvenirs. 

The labyrinth of lanes and shops that line them cover an area of 30,700 square meters and if you do get lost inside, it's a great experience to weave in and out of this maze to find your way out.

When the bazaar was first built it only consisted of two warehouses. It slowly expanded and by the 17th century it already reached its present size. Walking through the lanes and looking at the colorful goods and foodstuffs on display is a good way to know more about the culture of the locals. The price of items is not fixed and whether you get a good deal or not depends on your bargaining skill. Among items available are spices, Turkish handmade soaps, Turkish lamps, Lokum (Turkish delight), Ceramic, Turkish chai (tea), Turkish Kahve (coffee), jewelry, antiques, clothing, carpets and lots more. There are a number of small cafes and eateries as well. 

Grand Bazaar is indeed popular with a recorded 250,000 to 400,000 people visiting it each day.  Captured in the images below are the vibrant scenes of the bazaar during my visit.
We entered through Gate 7. The lane at this entrance appears to be the widest and longest so this must be the 'Main Lane". At the end of this long lane you will arrive at Gate 1 but there are many smaller land narrower lanes branching off this main lane.

The interior looks aged but it is beautifully designed, especially the ceilings.

 There are so many shops you may get a little confused initially.
The best way to to get a good deal if you plan to purchase something  is to move from shop to shop to compare prices and then be daring enough to bargain more than 50% off the original price stated. 

Lokum or Turkish delights is a hit among shoppers and this is the only item I bought from the bazaar. The price varies from shop to shop with shops along the main lane demanding the highest (138 lira /kg).  It seems to get cheaper when you walk to the quieter lanes. I purchased this for 80 lira per kg but I think if I was patient enough I could have got it even cheaper.
Colourful Turkish soap

There are a number of small cafes and eateries further away from the main lane.

We weaved through the lanes for 3 hours and covered a fairly huge area but I think it may take the whole day to cover them all.

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