Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Istanbul
The Spice Bazaar is also known as the Egyptian Bazaar. It is located in Eminönü behind the Yeni Camii which means the New Mosque. In fact its buildings are part of the New Mosque complex and the stallholders' rents help pay for the upkeep of the mosque.
Personally I found this bazaar much more interesting than the Grand Bazaar. It was also much less hassley. One of the things I would go here to buy was ilhamur Çay which means linden tree tea. This tea consisted of dried leaves and twigs which would be stored in huge hessian sacks and weighed out when anyone came to buy it. It was delicious and I still miss it even now.
This bazaar, as its name suggests, was famous for its spices. Stalls with huge mounds of colourful, powdered spice would render the air of the bazaar rich with the scent of a hundred different spices. It was amazing. I often bought spices here, too. For tourists, they would sell preweighed and bottled collections of different spices. These made a lovely gift. The spice bazaar also sold dried fruits, nuts, lokum - Turkish delight, other sweets, coffees, teas, dried herbs and even cheese.
Another thing you could see here was an assortment of different types of natural sea sponges. It was always an interesting place for a stroll.
The building of the Spice Bazaar was commissioned by Sultana Turhan Hatice, the Queen Mother of Sultan Mehmed IV in 1660.
Favorite thing: Stroll through the spice market and pick up an ounce or two of Turkish kebab spice or maybe some Garam Masala to bring back home. Be sure to look around though, taste and smell, as not all spice sellers are equal in quality of offerings. One way to tell the quality of the spices is by looking at the color -- it should be deep, not dull and flat and if a mixture of spices (such as the "kebab spice") look for one with a combination of many ingredients.
Fondest memory: This place was spectacular: you could see birds, flowers, medicine, plastic things, pottery, you name it, they had it! We had the best time there - it was just like a fleamarket!!!