Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar, Istanbul
One of the quintessential parts of any trip to Istanbul is wandering through the Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı). Underneath the ornate vaulted ceilings, you will find all the delectables and souvenirs most appealing to tourists, all in one location. These include spices, dried fruit, cheese, sausage, jam, nuts, seeds, tea, dozens of flavors of Turkish Delight, and more. You can also find jewelry, ceramics, silver, and other handicrafts.
As the Egyptian Bazaar is located close to the Golden Horn, it is easily accessible by ferry. At every time of the day tons of ferries arrive at the ferry docks of Eminönü (map). Eminönü is one of the most central locations of Istanbul which makes it easy to find any kind of transportation, from bus to tram and Marmaray.
History and Architecture
Built in 1664, the bazaar used to be a place where mostly goods imported from Egypt were being sold. This is also where its name came from. Later on, however, it also started to be called the Spice Bazaar, due to the diversity of goods and spices, imported from different countries apart from Egypt. The Spice Bazaar is constructed in an “L” shape with a total of 113 shops. During the Ottoman Empire, the bazaar acted as a pharmacy for many years. Despite suffering two major fires in 1691 and 1940, the bazaar was rebuilt and the most recent renovations were completed in 2018.
When to Visit
The bazaar is open every day (except on national holidays) from 8am to 7:30 pm during the summer (April 1- October 30th). During the off-peak winter season (October 31st-March 30th), it is open from 8 am to 7 pm. There is no entrance fee. It will take around half an hour to visit the inside unless you want to spend more time shopping. Expect to spend another hour or so, depending on how much shopping and bargaining you want to do, exploring the surrounding bazaar streets on all sides of the market building. Be sure not to miss the narrow bazaar street running west from the market building, called Hasırcılar Caddesi.
You can take my Istanbul Bazaars Walking Tour along Uzunçarşı Caddesi from the Grand Bazaar, downhill through the Tahtakale market district to the Rüstem Paşa Mosque, ending up at the Egyptian Bazaar—a great way to explore Istanbul's most famous markets in only an hour or two. As the bazaar is centrally located to other tourist attractions, consider combining your trip to the Egyptian Bazaar with other top sights:
- Grand Bazaar. Usually, people combine the two bazaars on one day, making it a shopping day. The Grand Bazaar caters to locals and tourists alike, and generally has more items such as home goods, clothing, and non-edible items. You can also find jewelry, perfume, bags, kilims & carpets, and Turkish ceramics. If you are searching for souvenirs, these bazaars are the best places you can visit.
- Rüstem Pasha Mosque; A few blocks westward along Hasircilar is one of Istanbul's finest small architectural gems.
- Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque; You can easily combine these on a walking tour. If you don’t want to walk, you can also take the tram towards Bağcılar, and disembark at Sultanahmet Station. If you are planning to go on foot, it’s best to follow the tramway, which will lead you to your destination.
- Divan Yolu-Known as the "Road to the Imperial Council, is the main street from Sultanahmet and the Hippodrome, passing by shops, restaurants, mosques, and monuments such as Çemberlitaş (the Burnt Column), to the Grand Bazaar.