To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.Aldous Huxley
No trip to Istanbul (Read more) is complete without paying a visit to the Grand Bazaar. It is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops which attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazaar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.
It is well known for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewelry etc. The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafes and restaurants.
The Grand Bazaar has four main gates situated at the ends of its two major streets which intersect near the southwestern corner of the bazaar.
Opening Times: Monday to Saturday 9:00 – 19:00. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.
We decided to walk across to grand bazaar which is just a short walk from the Blue Mosque Square and of course since we walked, it gives me more time to take in this amazing city. Click here for our Walking tour around Istanbul.
Nothing prepares you well for what lies ahead – I was literally taken aback seeing the rush ahead. But once you dive in, everything seems less chaotic. It was very clear that there were two foreigners in the market and the shop keeper’s didn’t hide the fact that they want to take your money and were going the extra mile to push out some goods.
We didn’t go with an intention of buying anything specific except for some dates. So we decided to take a stroll first and we were left open mouthed – there is so much stuff which you would love to buy here from: spices, turkish lights, belly dancer outfits, gold/silver, souvenirs etc.
There are various maps of Grand Bazaar (Click here) but I don’t see any sense in navigating with a map – its more a hassle midst the chaos. So just leave all maps and explore and keep taking turns at the end of each street – and you will be welcomed by something new.
Other key in the bazaar is bargain. Yes Bargain. If you are not bargaining here then you are essentially being ripped off. There is a whole lot of stuff/junk at sale here and the shop keepers price it well high – so the thumb rule knock down 50% of the price. They will appear shocked and maybe give a sad story on how he has to feed his kids – don’t deter – stick to your asking price and it will work. Else just walk off – most of the times they will chase you back. Also try asking for some extra goodies if you buy significantly big – they will happily throw it in.
Though we dint go with an intention to buy anything, we ended up buying a Turkish Beauty – A tall standing light and it now proudly stands in my living room. It was well worth the bargain – A serious hard bargain, a Turkish lemon tea and then we shook hands. I was able to convince the shopkeeper to throw in some extra lights and pack it very well. We had to carry it like a little baby in our arms in the flight as it was quite fragile. So that’s the beauty of this place – you go with no intention to buy and then you end up buying the biggest light in your house today.
Walking our way back to the Hotel we were wondering How did we even buy this! I wasn’t sure if it was me or Amoli – but neither of us pushed back anyways as we loved the light.
Explore our Istanbul exploration here – Click here
Read more about my food journey in turkey – Click here.
If you have any feedback/query, please feel to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you ASAP.