The Kapalicarsi or Covered Bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 58 streets, over 1,200 shops, not to mention ten wells, four fountains, two mosques, and several cafés and restaurants. Around 25,000 people are permanently employed in the bazaar, and an indeterminate number of street vendors ply their wares in and around it. The heart of Turkey's gold market and unofficial foreign exchange market beat here and has between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.
The bazaar contains two bedestens (domed masonry structures built for storage and safe keeping), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.
You can watch my 3 min 24 sec HQ Video Istanbul Grand Bazaar part I
out of my Youtube channel with Turkish pop music by Serdar Ortac – Hesap Soruno.
Tumultuous, frenetic - words do not do justice to the hyperactive ambience of the Grand Bazaar. On each street, dozens of vendors without an international brand name in sight each offering incredible selections ( images 2,3 ) and willing to create anything not in stock. What is not in the store may well be in the second and third level storage areas ( images 4,5 ). For many items, knockoff status for everything from Gucci to Cartier. Touts in the streets directing the visitor to specific stores ( mostly for carpets and kilims ). Crowds of shoppers scurrying hither and yon seeking out the greatest quality and the biggest bargain. A truly unique shopping experience.
Many believe the Grand Bazaar a tourist trap, and in some ways it may be. The vendors are grand past masters of separating suckers from their money. For those with the time, cheaper prices are undoubtedly available outside the bazaar. Yet for most visitors, the overall quality of the goods including the designer knockoffs is so good and the prices so low relative to full retail that the bazaar is still the venue of choice for those without days to pursue better deals. Everything P bought here has won compliments and obtained far cheaper than buying similar items at retail in New York. Wasting several hours to save 10% on a leather coat or a watch simply isn't worth it. Similarly, wandering from store to store will not really be worth the trouble. Visit a few, make a decision, buy, go see Istanbul.
Turkish hospitality will often lead to offers of tea or coffee - these are a tradition and do not obligate the buyer in any way. However, the seemingly innocent questions of the salesmen are not so benign. Where are you from, where are you staying, what ship are you from, have you found good places to eat, are you happy with your tour guide - these questions are intended to appraise your worth and are used to set prices and bargaining parameters. Our hotel, home state, etc, changed throughout our shopping experience -- straight down. Setting the original bargaining offer by the vendor as low as possible will pay off. Be aware that every salesman in Turkey has a relative in your home town, a business associate a few miles away, a recent visit to your home state. Trust me - these guys are good.
One principle - talk to friends who have visited the bazaar before you go and try and figure out just how much they payed for items of interest such as watches especially on knockoffs.
There are fabulous bargains at the Grand Bazaar - this is the place to shop quickly and efficiently.
It's a medieval department store. Built in the late 15th century, it's a labyrinth and hundreds of tiny streets and shops, with loads of gold and all kinds of junks, ALL at ridiculous prices...It is virtually impossible ( I mean it, because I have a have the bump of locality) to remember where you got into this place from and how to get out of there. The good thing is that it has lots of exits, but the chances are you'll get out in a completely different part of the city.
If you decide you like something there so much, you wanna buy it, my advice will be - do not buy it!!! Almost everything found there you can find elsewhere it the city at much more reasonable price. If, again, you decide to buy - DO bargain !!! This can make your day and save you a lot of money. The first price they'll tell you is quite simply ridiculous. Tell the equally ridiculous counteroffer, i.e. if the salesperson told you I want 100 lira (50 Euro) for this bone box, you tell him - Well, I'll give you 10 lira...for two...This is how everything works here...
Things to avoid: Do not go in the Sirkeci area around the Egyptian market. It's a terrible place, a swarm of people, very chaotic and noisy, everyone screaming something and another one answering at the other side of the street, a third one decides to give his opinion on the matter, and this is repeated hundreds of thousands of time, until you start worrying about your life. There's a good chance you get robbed, too, mainly because of the huge amount of people (Istanbul has a population of about 15 million) and the dizziness this causes you.
Things to do: try the "balik ekmek" or fish sandwich sold from boats right in the Golden Horn, in the Eminonu Port. It's a simple, yet very tasty sandwich, made of a quarter of white bread, half of mackerel fish , caught by the same boat the same day, some onions and lemon juice. Mmmm, I loved it, and it's cheap (3.5 lira) and healthy.
Visit the Yerebatan, the so called "Sunken palace". originally a cistern for water, built by the Byzantines to help the city in case of siege, it has been turned into, i.m.h.o. one of Istanbul's greatest attractions. look at the pictures, or better, go and see it.
This is the Super Bowl of shopping and all under one roof! Although perhaps not as rustic and romantic as the image one might have built up in their own minds, the Grand Bazaar is a place to be experienced and not to be missed even for the reputed non-shopper. Culturally it is fascinating: The banter from the shopkeepers to get you to look at their wares; walking along lanes that have housed shoppers since the 15th century; the sport of bargaining with a shopkeeper over a potential purchase; and the ever-present tea waiters, taking all types of tea on metal trays to shops who order them for their customers (and themselves).
Definitely take the time to visit the older section of the Bazaar, the Cevahir Bedesteni. Dating from the 15th century you can see the exposed brick domed ceiling. It houses many small high quality jewelery, antique, and ceramic shops.
I think we spent time in the Grand Bazaar on 3 of the 5 days we were in town. I think that's the key to surviving the Grand Bazaar...to do it in small doses. To try to do it in one outing would be mind-numbing for all but the most intense and serious of shopper.
What to buy: What can you buy here? With over 4000 shops, just about everything! Jewelery, antiques, football kits, ceramics, lamps, carpets, leather goods, tourist chotchke, food stuff, clothes, luggage, shoes, belly dancing outfits, watches. You name it!
What to pay: Varies; be sure to use your bargaining skills!
It's a huge bazar and it's covered.There are a lot of streets full with jewelry shops,clothes,gifts,souvenires,etc.All the retailers stand outside and invite the costumers to buy.Whe you deside to buy something and ask for the price they always tell you higher price.And you'll offend them if you don't bargain for the price.For example we wanted to buy 2 cups for tea with plates and spoons.He said 16 lira,I said 8 and finally we met at 11 lira.But I'm not good in it.If you're better you'll get better price.
What to buy: You should buy a blue eye,called "nazar"(if I remember correctly).It is a symbol for health and happieness.
The Grand Bazaar is a huge complex. One should be careful and note his/hers route as s/he is walking further as it is very easy to get lost in this huge bazaar. All the "paths" or "alleys" look very similar to each other.
Take care of your belongings here. It is not a dangerous place, just full of people. Normal awareness for pickpocketing is enough.
Be aware that the salesman are there to do their work, and can be very strong in their sales activities. Time is easily spent there, even more than you thought. Remember to bargain! It is the normal way of doing business in Turkey. Often there is -unless a shop and clearly marked prices- margin to negotiate even as much as half of the first price. Don't pay too much!
If you are considering of buying a carpet, painting, leather jacket or something else more valuable, remember that you might be invited for a cup of tea and the negotiations may last even a couple of hours.
As a common rule everywhere it is good not to start bargaining if you are honestly not interested and not willing to buy the item.
What to buy: You can find practically anything you want from here: water pipes (nargile) of different sizes, beautiful decorated tea sets and pots, tea, leather products, hand made carpets, handicraft, souvenirs of many kinds, clothes, scarves, jewellery, glass and crystal products - it is difficult to remember what you can't find from there.
No trip to Istanbul is complete without visiting the Grand Bazaar, which boasts over 4000 shops. Here, you will find everything including souvenirs, gold, turkish rugs, fake designer goods and ceramics.
Note: The Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays.
What to buy: Souvenirs.
What to pay: Don't make the mistake of thinking that everything here is at its cheapest. Look around, compare prices and then haggle - lots!
The Grand Bazaar is a great place to visit - a "must see" when in Istanbul. That being said, I wouldn't buy anything there. Given the hype surrounding the Grand Bazaar, EVERYTHING is EXTREMELY overpriced. Negotiating is a must, but with the vendors starting off with such outrageous prices, it is difficult to work down to a reasonable price.
All the products found in the Grand Bazaar can be found elsewhere for a fraction of the price.
What to buy: Nothing
The Grand Bazaar is huge! Best not to plan, but just to get lost! Everybody will see you as a possible client -and it is very touristy.
It does have a great atmosphere and is a must visit.
I'm not too sure if you will get many bargains here.
What to buy: Variety of crafts etc
I was very surprised at the lack of hassel you get at the Grand Bazaar compared to markets in other Countries I've been too. I was expecting to be almost dragged into every shop but it was surprisingly easy going. But don't get me wrong this is still a bazaar so lots going on, bustling crowds with plenty of haggling to be done.
It is a maze and was almost impossible to find a shop we wanted to go back to and that was with a map, so you definitely have to be in the right frame of mind and prepared to tackle the bazaar.
What to buy: Souveniers, jewellery, cheap clothes, belly dancers costumes....
What to pay: Depending on what your buying I guess but I paid about 30YTL for a lamp and about the same for a teapot type thing. Would try to haggle down to half at first then see where you get to but depends what you're happy paying. I find by sticking to a reasonable price, and walking away if it's not accepted will do the trick, they'll soon be calling you back ;)
You can't go to Istanbul and not visit the Grand Bazaar! The bazaar is closed on Sundays along with the Egyptian Spice Market.
When I walked into the jewelry store where we purchased some items before, I was very surprised when they recognized me right away and called the salesperson who helped me previously! I was impressed because they see thousands of people each month. So, if you are looking for gold in the Grand Bazaar, go to Bircan Jewelry (#67). If you don't see what you want in the window, go inside and tell them what you are looking for, they can probably find it, just like they did with the beautiful ring I purchased from them.
I also visited another clothing merchant where I purchased some clothing in April. I happened to be wearing one of the sweaters I purchased and they told us "hey, lady, if you want more sweaters like that, come inside." I told them that I had bought the sweater there before...and ended up going inside where I spent about $100 on D&G, Von Dutch, and DKNY shirts and sweaters. Of course, they were either imitation or excess production but I have to admit that most everything I've purchased at the markets in Turkey have been exceptional quality.
What to buy: Gold & silver jewelry, pashimas, leather jackets, and faux designer jeans/shirts
What to pay: Most things are up for negotiation so bargain and have fun!
if u want bring some gifts from istanbul you will find some hand made or ready dishes full of colors and arts
it,s good decorate items for home or office , or as gifts to friends . but try ask for the prices all time you must try have lower price all time .
This famous Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi), a covered market, is always crowded.
Here you can find more than 4,000 shops, banks, restaurants, and mosques.
During Ottoman rule, the bazaar was an important centre for the trade in jewelry and gold.
What to buy: sometimes even things you don't really need
What to pay: depends on how much you're willing to spend, but don't forget to bargain
Grand bazaar was established by Mehmet II around 1453, theres a lot of shops inside and an unique architectural, many enter gate but we cant loose the way because theres a lot of signposting.
I entered throu Carsikapi gate in front of Beyazit tram stop, this side is the easy way from my hotel in Taksim area, or you can use a bus number 81 from Taksim .
What to buy: We can buy a lot of unique and ethnic things ,like souvenirs (key chain, wallet, t-shirt ) , carpets, scarf and leather goods
What to pay: Remember always to bargain...and use cash YLT ( new Turkish Lira ).
I am sure that everybody knows about the Grand Bazaar, or to say it Kapalicarsi. During my last visits, I have recognized something bad. Grand Bazaar is fading. Instead of cloth shops, etc. the number of gastronomic shops are increasing because the shopkeepers cannot make money anymore. It is very rare to see somebody buying something.
I have to say that if you want to buy something from Turkey, do not have doubt to think about Grand Bazaar. The prices are good there. But, do not forget to bargain. It isnot because the shopkeepers want to cheat you. But, it is because bargaining is like a ritual in traditional shopping centers like Grand Bazaar.