Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

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  • Donna_in_India's Profile Photo

    An Istanbul Must See But Buy Elsewhere

    by Donna_in_India Updated Mar 16, 2014

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    Colorful Glassware, Grand Bazaar
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    You will either love the Grand Bazaar (Kapali Çarsi) or not. For as long as I can remember I have wanted to visit the Grand Bazaar. However, by the end of my trip to Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar would not even rank in my top ten Istanbul favorites. Of course, it is still a must see. Everyone knows the stats: one of the world's largest and oldest covered markets, 60+ maze-like streets with thousands of booth-like stalls selling everything from carpets to jeans.

    Mehmet II established the Grand Bazaar in 1453. Over the years, it has been expanded, and restored after fires and earthquakes. Inside, the tiled arches were my favorite feature.

    Although there are many entrance gates, the four main gates are: Oruculer Gate, Mahmut Pasa Gate, Nuruosmaniye Gate (by Nuruosmaniye Mosque, Cemberlitas tram stop), and Beyazit Gate (Beyazit tram stop). Inside you will find fountains, mosques, and many cafes if you need a break from shopping.

    Haggling is the norm and for those of you(us) who don't enjoy it, I recommend shopping outside the bazaar. Prices quoted were at least 2 times, sometimes 3 times more than for the same item outside the bazaar. Although the bazaar is sectioned by type of merchandise you will be able to find trashy trinkets/souvenirs all over.

    It is estimated that between 250,000 and 400,000 people jam the bazaar each day so get an early start. We were fortunate in that each time we stopped in at the Bazaar it was almost empty (unlike the very crowded Spice Bazaar).

    My opinion might be in the minority, but I honestly thought the Grand Bazaar was uninspiring. It certainly was nothing like shopping at the Souks in Marrakesh, but more like shopping in a mall. But still, when you visit Istanbul, you HAVE to go to the Grand Bazaar!

    Open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

    Closed on Sundays

    Be sure to pick up a map of the bazaar before exploring.

    **Watch for pickpockets and bag-slashers.

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  • Zvrlj's Profile Photo

    Kapali Carsi (I&V)

    by Zvrlj Updated Aug 18, 2009

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Grand Bazaar

    Probably the best way to describe the Grand Bazaar is to quote Mark Twain – "We went to the grand Bazaar in Stamboul, of course, and I shall not describe it further than to say it is a monstrous hive of little shops – thousands, I should say – all under one roof, and cut up into innumerable little blocks by narrow streets which are arched overhead."

    Although his visit to the Grand Bazaar was more than century ago, almost nothing has changed. It would have been great if one had been able to compare the Grand Bazaar of today with the Grand Bazaar at the time of its establishment, in mid 15th century.

    We had doubts about putting the Grand Bazaar tip into Shopping tips section or Things to Do section. Finally we have decided that the other is better and more useful as the Grand Bazaar is more the tourist attraction than a shopping place. We could also noticed that the Grand Bazaar is often described as the Tourist Trap here, on VT. It is not the tourist trap as long as one knows what it is, but – nothing can prepare you for the Grand Bazaar.

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  • Henrik_rrb's Profile Photo

    A shopping madness

    by Henrik_rrb Written Jun 1, 2005

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    The Grand Bazar, one of all the streets.

    It feels like it never will end, that there are more shopping possibilities around every corner - and that you never will be able to find the best price... 4000 shops under one roof.

    Remember some things:
    - Always negotiate about the prize. And be sure that whatever price you in the end will pay - the salesmen still is pleased with the price he got you to pay... Not said that you can't have done a good affair.
    - Keep you belongings close to you. The Grand Bazar is mostly really crowded, and if you lose concentration for even only one second - you risk losing your wallet, bag or anything else.
    - If you have the time, go around in the bazar first. Even if you don't want to buy something it's still really fun to just go around and look. If you aren't afraid for crowded places that is...
    Then after a while, when you have seen enough, decide what you want to buy, and then buy it. My impression is that the prices doesn't change much from one place to another, but it probably will help you to get a lower price if you go around and bargain with more salesmen.
    - If you aren't interested in buying something from a shop, don't look interested, and don't stop in front of it. In just seconds you'll be dragged into the shop, and then it can be hard to get out again without being rude or buying something...

    Here you will find everything you ever have wanted to buy in Turkey. Gold, silver, clothes in all kinds of ways, tea, coffe, spicies, glasses, sculptures, souvenirs and more and more and more.

    Just remember to look around a bit too. The tunnels where you're going are really beautiful!

    The Grand Bazar was first started some 500 years ago. And it's actually quite easy to find what you're looking for, specially if you as I had, have a turkish friend with you. The streets are named after what you'll find on them, and even even if you don't understand turkish you'll soon understand how it works. One area with only leather clothes, one only with gold, another with only with spicies, and so on.

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    THE (EXPENSIVE) GRAND BAZAAR

    by balhannah Updated Jul 9, 2010

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    Inside the Grand Bazaar

    THE GRAND BAZAAR, I had heard so much, I had seen it on Television a few times, and at last, I was here, having a look around the shops, about 4000 of them!!!

    There probably is everything here that you could want to look at and buy!

    I don't know why, but I wasn't that impressed, perhaps expecting more from the build up I had been given. I also had been to the Egyptian Bazaar first, and been around narrow streets with lots of stalls, perhaps that was it?

    OR.....................

    Maybe it was because I wanted to buy some Ceramics and had priced them in a normal shop before visiting, so I had an idea of what to pay.
    They were 6t/l at the shop, at the Bazaar, I asked the price, and was told 12 t/l, so even with bargaining.
    I would have been paying more than buying from a shop and not doing any bargaining.

    BEWARE!!!!!!

    It probably was this, disappointing.
    I was looking forward to getting some lovely gifts at bargain prices, and I soon realized.......
    THIS WAS NOT THE PLACE FOR CHEAP BARGAINS.

    I'm glad I came for a look, I think I enjoyed outside, in amongst the hundreds of people in the side streets better!

    OPEN DAILY MONDAY TO SATURDAY 8.30 - 7PM ........ CLOSED SUNDAYS
    The surrounding street markets usually stay open longer.

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  • H-TownJourneyman's Profile Photo

    Kapaliçarsi

    by H-TownJourneyman Written Feb 16, 2007

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    Entrance To The Grand Bazaar
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    The Grand Bazaar, or Kapaliçarsi "Covered Bazaar", as it is called in Turkish, is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Istanbul, yet it is also quite popular among locals as well. And why not, with thousands of shops selling everything from Turkish rugs & belly dancing costumes to jewelry & watches, along with countless restaurants & cafes, you could spend a whole day here! If you are looking for that special souvenir to take home, this is where you will want to go. If you are looking for a fake Gucci purse, this is where you will want to go. And if you are a good bargainer, this is DEFINATELY where you want to go! Price is always negotiable here! The Bazaar traces it's origins back to the earliest days of Turkish presence in Istanbul, when Sultan Mehmet II commissioned it in 1464. Over the centuries, it has grown dramatically in size, and has gone through many restorations and rennovations. Today it is one of the biggest covered markets in the world, and hundreds of thousands of people walk through it everyday. The shopkeepers are quite aware of this, many of them try endlessly to get you to come look at whatever it is they are selling. When we visited, even right after I purchased a small necklace, this guy from another shop followed me around for a couple of minutes trying to get me to look at the necklaces he was selling! But it is all part of the experience here, fending off one shopkeeper while haggling with the next is half of the fun. Don't miss one of Istanbul's most recognized treasure's, even if you just come to do a little browsing and have a glass of tea. Not to be missed!

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  • fachd's Profile Photo

    Kapalicarsi the Grand Bazaar

    by fachd Written Sep 5, 2007

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    Kapalicarsi-the Grand bazaar entrance
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    Kapalicarsi means covered market in Turkish and also known in English as Grand Bazaar. It was built in the 15th century. It is the largest covered market in Turkey and possibly of its kind in the world.

    The bazaar almost sells everything, from Turkish pipe to Turkish carpet, from leather to wool, from imitation goods to souvenir, from postcards to belly dancer outfits. There are restaurants and tea houses at the bazaar.

    The bazaar is a colourful and exciting place with full of activities. Maze of shops, the sound customers bargaining and the shop owner trying to grab your attention. You can practise your bargaining skill at Kapalicarsi.

    I was told in the crowd beware of pickpockets and bag snatcher.

    Kapalicarsi open daily except Sunday from 7am to 7pm.

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  • nicolaitan's Profile Photo

    World's Largest Covered Market

    by nicolaitan Updated May 3, 2009

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    Kapalicarsi, the Grand Bazaar, is one of the largest covered markets in the world, 330000 sq ft, with upwards of 3500 stores, 55 streets, 25000 workers, and 250000-400000 visitors per day. Mehmet the Conquerer opened a market at this site as early as 1450, enlarged significantly by Suleyman the Magnificent in the 16th C, with extensive renovations following a major earthquake in 1894.
    The broad classes of merchandise available from multiple vendors include most famously jewellry, watches, leather good, clothing, carpets and kilims, all varieties of antiques, ceramics, and precious metals and stones. The floor plan is confusing with some oblique and curved streets, but schematic maps are available from multiple sources including hotels. These are color coded as certain areas of the bazaar contain predominantly once class of shop. The most expensive and upscale section is at the center (Cevahir Bedesten - Old Bazaar)( Image 5 ) where the aisles are narrower, the storefronts far more refined, and the dome the highest. Here the streets are quiet and peaceful without the hustle and bustle of the remainder in fitting with the more refined offerings. This is the area for antique jewellry coins and furniture, copperware and amber, fine ceramics, and religious objects.
    Multiple entrances to the bazaar allow access to different areas but for most visitors following the crowds from the Beyazit or Cemberlitas tram stop ( just west of the Sultanahmet stop) will be the best route. Immediately on entrance there is a leather clothing district and the first main street running perpendicularly is the main street for jewellry sales, with small side streets.

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  • fouads's Profile Photo

    Grand Covered Bazar

    by fouads Written Apr 25, 2007

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    fouad 2006

    It,s a big covered old shopping center with about 4000 shops inside it , they sell
    many things like jewellry , gold , carpets ,hand made dishes , leather , sweets .
    you will like it so much , for me we have in Syria same thing so i feel inside it
    like my city , same feeling . note it,s close all in sunday

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  • tere1's Profile Photo

    Bargain for shopping!

    by tere1 Written Aug 7, 2006

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    The Grand Bazaar

    You will loose yourself at the Grand Bazaar and will spend a lot, if you like to shop. It's very tempting!
    The Grand Bazaar is a huge covered complex of shops, very colourful and funny. You will find here carpets ( good and bad quality), cushions, bowls, pipes, all crafts, pottery, leather jackets, teas, anything you want.

    The vendors will call you to enter their establishments and try to sell you their goods.
    If you aren't really interested in buying just smile, say thank you and go on. If you show interest in any item they won't leave you alone. So, be sure you really want the item before asking them any questions. Also, don't ever show much interest on something if you really want it. Just ask about other things without letting them notice that it's THAT item you really want. That way you might get it for much less than you expect.

    Always bargain the price , that's a custom and the vendors love it. At the end you should pay 1/3 of what was the initial price he asked. Bargaining is a funny thing if we can develop your skills in it and by the time you leave Istanbul, you will be a master doing it. I was!

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  • AcornMan's Profile Photo

    Grand Bazaar

    by AcornMan Updated Apr 23, 2004

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    Inside the Grand Bazaar

    The Grand Bazaar was built in 1464 by order of Mehmed II and has served the needs of the city ever since. Today it is one of the biggest covered markets in the entire world. With literally thousands of shops selling everything from t-shirts and leather jackets to expensive jewelry and antiques, the Grand Bazaar has more things for sale than you can imagine, including what has to be the biggest concentration of Turkish rugs in the universe. In addition to providing a great shopping area for tourists, it also provides a vital source of goods for locals.

    You can easily spend half a day in the Grand Bazaar, and even if you go in without any particular items in mind, chances are that you'll come across something you just have to take home with you. In our case we came out with several big bags of things we just had to take home with us, and could easily have bought a whole lot more than that if we had room for it all.

    Remember that ALL the prices quoted by the merchants are negotiable. I spent a lot of time haggling for the things I bought. In some cases I got great deals and in others I overpaid, but it was always fun to barter nonetheless. And it's not over when you leave the confines of the bazaar, because the entire surrounding area serves as a sprawling outdoor market as well. However, we found that the things for sale outside were not nearly as nice and that the outdoor market seemed to serve mostly the needs of locals, who came shopping for batteries, cooking utensils, underwear, and just about anything else you can imagine.

    You'll just have to decide for yourself whether the Grand Bazaar is a tourist trap, but personally I think it would be a real shame to miss it.

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  • Durfun's Profile Photo

    The massive ancient covered market

    by Durfun Updated Jan 8, 2010

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    Shoppers in the bazaar, data hangs from the roof!

    It is a must-see place. This market has several gates to enter, each numbered and on different streets. Even inside, there are signs and names of the streets for each exit.

    You can find practically anything you're after here, from souvenirs, nargiles, crockery, clothes, jewellery, etc. Perfect for window shopping to get ideas, and experience the bargaining process. The convenience of shopping here is that most things are under one roof.

    Indeed, prices are lower in the shops along the fringes of the Grand market, due to lower overheads.

    However, one must visit this Bazaar. Notice the various fact-files hanging from the colourful ceilings, giving historical datelines, data on the size of the bazaar, etc. It's fun looking out for these signs and taking in the info!

    In my photo it says ".. built in the 15th century, covering an area on 54,653 sq.m, is the oldest and largest covered bazaar in the world".

    Another one says "It has 21 gates, 2 bedestans, 17 inns, 66 streets, nearly 4000 shops and employs more than 30000 people".

    It also has several WCs, to enhance & prolong your shopping trip ;)

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  • muratkorman's Profile Photo

    Kapali Carsi

    by muratkorman Updated Mar 8, 2010

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    Always crowded
    3 more images

    This covered bazaar is one of the biggest and oldest covered market in the world with more than 58 covered streets and over 1,200 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It was opened in 1461 and enlarged in time. You can find souvenirs, textile, carpets, leather, jewellery and many more. The small streets in Kapali Carsi give a labyrinth-like feeling when you visit. Shop owners are friendly and multilingual. Bargaining is the custom here and you will be offered a drink if you go inside shops. You can spend hours wandering around Kapali Carsi.

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    Grand Bazaar

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 29, 2004

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    In the Grand Bazaar

    Grand Bazaar (Kapali Carsi) is a covered market with several thousand shops selling carpets, jewellery, bags, souvenirs, cloths etc. There are a lot of tourists here and some of the stallholders can be very eager to sell you things. Don’t forget to bargain!

    The bazaar started to be built soon after the conquest but it has several times since then been destroyed by fires, rebuilt and repaired.

    It is closed on Sundays.

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  • Martin_S.'s Profile Photo

    "THE" Grand Bazaar

    by Martin_S. Updated Dec 24, 2008

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    Grand Bazaar, arches and tiles, Istanbul, Turkey
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    Here in Israel we also have the tradition of having shopping areas, covered or not, from ancient times. Here in Istanbul, they have taken the "ART" of shopping in a Bazaar to a new level. First of all the sheer size of the Grand Bazaar, it is one of, if not the, largest in the world and it is all under roof. You should try and pick up the map which I have posted here in the Transportation section since it is easy for the directionally challanged to get lost here. Shops, shops, shops, that is what the Bazaar is all about and it is divided into areas of expertise to make it easier for you. You can find the gold row as well as leather. If you arrive there early and are the first customer, there is a custom called "siftach", which translates loosely into "the first opening deal"...often at 40-50% of their asking price. But do beware in your bargaining, be knowledable in the going prices for things you are searching for, if not you may find yourself paying double or more. It is fun just to wander and see where you end up, do sit down and enjoy a snack or cup of tea and just watch the tourists run by.
    One of the photos shows a "waterfall". One day while visiting the Bazaar, a sudden cloud burst caused flooding and this small side entrance literally turned into a waterfall.

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  • WulfstanTraveller's Profile Photo

    Grand Bazaar

    by WulfstanTraveller Updated Oct 28, 2004

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    The Kapali Carsi ("Covered Market"), or Grand Bazaar as it is typicaly called in English, is one of the world's most fascinating shopping experiences that is a major tourist visit even aside from the shopping itself, like Harrod's in London.

    It is certainly one of the oldest shopping places in the world that one is likely to visit (many other old markets are in other towns of Turkey), with the oldest part dating back to the mid-late 15th-century under Mehmet II.

    The market is also the largest shopping mall in the world, with supposedly over 4,000 stores, and it covers blocks and blocks. Each hall is actually a street. There are restaurants, at least one mosque, fountains, and the like. It can get very crowded, so don't get separated!

    Although it is strongly geared towards tourists, with sometimes high prices which one must try to bargain down and aggressive touts, one simply need be firm and polite if not wanting to buy anything. There are also some places where one can get a good bargain, even without haggling, and some places don't have the aggresive touts, either.

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Comments (1)

  • Aug 17, 2013 at 4:14 AM

    Just another shopping centre in the guise of a market with the same old same old every 100m, very pushy bordering on offensive traders, no bargains to be had. I walked two corridors and by then had seen enough. The whole thing exemplified what a large part of Istanbul is about ie ripping the unwary off.

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