In my first visit to Istanbul, I was taken to the bazaar - "this is the bazaar, let's enter, be careful not to get lost... let's go out... it's seen".
Things are better when you are on your own, when you may decide where and when to enter, have the pleasure of loosing yourself with time to check what you like, feel the place and its surroundings.
I had it this time, and got a better idea. There's not much difference between the bazaar and our malls in Sunday, only the exposed articles have a more eastern look.
Buying... well that's a different matter, you will have to bargain, but this time I was in REAL vacations - Fernanda was not there!
Time also to read that the bazaar has 4000 shops (or 1200), was built in the 15Th century and has 250 000 visitors a day (or 400 000 and me).
The shops are grouped by type of goods, and that forces competition and helps buyers, but also makes the images so repetitive, that a non-shopper as me may accelerate to exit.
If you fall into the category of tourists who catalog attractions as must see,then you will definitely have the Grand Bazaar on your list of must see things.
To me it was no big deal.Because we had time I went.Due to my wife being a shopping addict we bought things there.But we found the same things in shops just 1 or 2 minutes outside the grand bazaar cheaper.
The shops on the street and aveues outside the Grand bazaar had fresh air,sunshine,and a much better atmosphere.The shop assistants were friendly without being pushy and having the "here comes another gullible tourist gleam"in their eyes as we saw in the Grand bazaar.Also the ventilation is not good,so smells stale,and gets hot.
Go and look just for fun,but buy elsewhere.It will be cheaper and a much more pleasant shopping experience.
I bough gold in istanbul but when i returned home i found out it was fake.
There are many gold shops in istanbul bazaar but it's all fake gold.
Unfortunately most tourists aren't aware of this and always pay a too high price.
If you want to buy real gold, go to a place where turkish people themself go, and not to a place where tourist go.
Go with a turkish person to gold shops outside the touristic area so that they won't sell you fake gold.
The turkish people are all playing with you and are only interested in your money.
I remember going here with my husband. It is the sort of place he loves and I hate. We were trying to look around when a belt seller attached himself to us. He quoted a price for his belt. We said no. He then offered us five belts for the price he had said. We said no. He then offered us 10 belts for the price he had said and so on. In the end when he was offering us a ridiculous twenty-five belts for his starting price, Peter said, "They are probably plastic anyway." At which point the belt seller lost his temper, produced a cigarette lighter from his pocket and placed its flame against each of the belts to show they would not melt. We still did not buy them; we really did not want any belts.
My husband finds high pressure sales tactics funny and gets into conversation with the salesmen. I just find them annoying and operate on the principle, hassle me and I won't buy from you even if I want what you are selling. I would have liked just to have a peaceful look around the Grand Bazaar, but that never seemed to happen.
One thing I did quite like about the salesmen was they pride themselves on their linguistic ability and try to sell their wares to you in the language they think you speak, so they will approach people in Turkish, English, French, German, Arabic etc.
The Grand Bazaar is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It is made up of 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops.
Construction of the Grand Bazaar started in 1455, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the reign of Mehmet the Conqueror. Originally what is now the Grand Bazaar was several unconnected markets, but by the beginning of the 17th century these had joined together to form the Grand Bazaar. At several points throughout its history the Grand Bazaar has had to be restored or rebuilt following fires and earthquakes.
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.
This covered market was built in 1461 and it can be considered a city inside the city. It's a huge labyrinth with 4000 shops.
I have no tip on how to wander in this huge bazar but: get lost. I am not a shopping person and infact I just took a turkish coffe, but wandering through the small streets and squares of the bazar is indeed an experience. It's also not known as the cheaper place in town, so, buying stuffs here is not such a good idea.
The Grand Bazaar and the surrounding area proved itself with this ability to sink my spirits. Every time I approached the area I started to feel sad and depressed. I thought about it. It must be the people there. And the most I thought about it the most I realized how men there look unhappy, aggressive, dark (and obviously I am not talking about their skin). I tried to remember a moment of good humor, a smile, and I couldn't.
Additionally, the tourist hunting, the dirty streets, the mess, the compact crowd. I tried to walk around for three times and every time I felt the need to get out of there as soon as possible. Exactly the opposite effect I got from crossing the Bosphorus every time I felt the need of a boost in my spirits.
Our friend suggested sitting down in this small side passageway to have lunch at a small restaurant...what do I mean by small...well it has TWO tables where 8 people can sit....anyway, the lunch was enjoyable and our friend picked out a typical lunch meal for us. If you want to look for this restaurant, sorry that I forgot to take the name, but just show this photo of the owner, I am sure any of the shops in the Grand Bazaar will recognize him.
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with more than 58 covered streets and over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and half a million visitors daily.
The grand bazaar began construction in 1455 and opened in 1461. It is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice, and carpet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by the type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like.
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.
Here you can see more photos of this amazing Bazaar on my "Travelogue" ... :
Today, the grand bazaar houses two mosques, two hamams, four fountains, and multiple restaurants and cafes. The sprawling complex consists of 12 major buildings and has 22 doors.
A for sure must see area for the Istanbul visits, for shopping, dining and enjoying the day .. :)
It is only to be expected that the capital of the Empire would have a rather large marketplace or bazaar, and indeed the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul does not disappoint. This is a far cry from the chic, Europeanized storefronts of Istiklal Caddesi. The Grand Bazaar, also known as the Covered Bazaar, was first founded in the 1450s, as it performed an important function of accommodating the resumption of normal commercial activity following the Ottoman conquest of the city. It was constructed by the Ottomans and thus is entirely Ottoman in style and organization. While there have been various periods in which the market – actually two separate markets fused together – was devoted to various different types of merchandise, it is clear that the Grand Bazaar was always a hub for specific trades: textiles, leather goods, good, clothing, carpets, and luxury items. These were the preferred trades because of the difficulties in keeping the market lighted (it receives natural light through small windows only), increasing the cost of management of the space. The growth in the Empire and the relative attractiveness of Istanbul as an entrepôt for tradables meant that the market grew in importance and size over the 16th to 18th centuries, entrenching the merchants who were already present there. It fell on hard times in the 19th century, however, as the Empire waned and textile merchants in particular faced stiff competition from manufactured goods and European imports. It fell into real disrepair with the collapse of the Empire, and was only renovated and restored to its former glory in the middle of the 20th century. Today, the market still functions as a hub for its traditional traders, although much of the merchandise is cheap, lower-quality imports from China and East Asian countries. Nevertheless, it retains its initial air of exoticism, and is definitely worth a visit.
I can't even begin to describe how let down I was by the Grand Bazar. Just about anybody that you talk to will describe it as one of the "highlights" of Istanbul and "an absolute must do". I couldn't disagree more.
The Grand Bazaar seems to be created solely for the purpose of taking money from tourists. It is not authentic and has none of that exotic, intriguing, mysterious feel that you would expect from one of the world's oldest markets. Rather, it is clean, proper, even fancy. Merchants pull every trick in the book to try to get you into buying something from them. Prices aren't just doubled or tripled from their real value, but are quadrupled, quintupled.. you get the point.
Maybe if I had went in with different expectations I would have appreciated it more. I was anticipating some wild, free wheeling outdoor market place like I have experienced in the Middle East and Africa - the Grand Bazaar has absolutely none of the qualities that made those markets so special.
The Grand Bazaar is exotic, colorful, vibrant, and a rip off.
DO Walk around and feel the city vibe.
DO bring your camera and take pictures of the colorful lamps, charming trinkets, and vibrant charms.
DO NOT Spend your money here. Even when you haggle, and think you're getting a bargain, you are not. (Go to Kadkoy for shopping or other stores outside of the Grand Bazaar where locals shop)
Do NOT Talk to store vendors. They are friendly, want to strike a conversation with you, willing to give you directions, tips, advice....just to lure you into their store for the "best" prices. Don't do it, unless you want to pay for trinkets (made in China),for triple the price. Why encourage these greedy vendors by spending your money there.