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Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Last Updated on May 6, 2024

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı) is Turkey's largest covered market offering excellent shopping. Covering a total area of 45000 sq. meters with approximately 4,000 shops, the Grand Bazar is definitely worth a visit if your path crosses Istanbul. 

Anything from beautiful Turkish carpets, to glazed tiles and pottery, copper and brassware, apparel made of leather, cotton and wool, meerschaum pipes, bookends and ashtrays, jewelry, and all sorts of other things can be found.

With a total of 21 entrances and 4,000 shops, the Grand Bazaar is the world’s biggest historical covered market. In 2014, with 91 million visitors in a year, the Grand Bazaar rated its name among the most visited tourist locations in the world. Due to the changing era, and outcome of new shopping markets, customers have changed their preferences. Although losing some of its popularity, the Grand Bazaar still hosts millions of tourists every single year. According to travel statistics, annually around 20-25 million people come and visit this authentic covered market. 

History and Architecture

With its incredible history, and passing through the hands of various Sultans, the official foundation of the Grand Bazaar dates back to 1461. Each and every Sultan contributed to this incredible structure, which enhanced the capacity of the Bazaar, paving the way to reach its current state.

Fires are devastating incidents, especially in ancient times, during which first intervention wasn't as accessible compared to nowadays. Having dealt with immense fires, the Grand Bazaar managed to renew itself each and every time by rising from the ashes and turning into something more magical and meaningful. After surviving various fires, the structure of the Bazaar was decided to be adjusted, by replacing the wood with stones and bricks. If you ever have a chance to look at the Grand Bazaar from above, you will see an area located right in the middle, with 15 domes. That is the oldest part of the Bazaar. 

Shopping

Tourists visiting the Grand Bazaar must know that whatever they may purchase here will be more expensive compared to the outer prices. Nowadays, the Grand Bazaar still has great importance in terms of gold and foreign exchange prices. If you are planning to buy anything in the Grand Bazaar, know its genuine worth and do some research before purchasing. You'll definitely want to hone your bargaining skills before you plunge into the markets. Also beware of pickpockets and bag-slashers in the crowds.

Here are some recommended shops in the Grand Bazaar:

Owner Memet Gureli runs EthniCon and Dhoku in Istanbul to sell some of the highest quality Turkish carpets to consumers from around the world. He is a third-generation carpet salesman who has been selling in the Grand Bazaar for 45 years. As the most award-winning rug company in Turkey, EthniCon offers outstanding prices for their Turkish carpets of the highest quality and style without overcharging customers, as many carpet shops do. 

Tell “Dhoku/Ethnicon Carpets” that "Turkey Travel Planner sent you" for best pricing, you will often have additional discounts, and assurance of an excellent experience because of the valued TTP recommendation!

Iznik Works, has been a trusted name in Turkish ceramics for years, located in the Grand Bazaar, and featuring a vast selection of reproductions of Seljuk and Ottoman works. There are 4 locations to choose from in the Grand Bazaar, so don't miss out on this shop that brings history and traditional artwork together for its customers.

Tell “Iznik Works” that "Turkey Travel Planner sent you" for best pricing, you will often have additional discounts, and assurance of an excellent experience because of the valued TTP recommendation!

EXTRA: If you are a big fan of visiting markets and bazaars around Istanbul, take my Istanbul Bazaars Walking Tour from the Grand Bazaar downhill along Uzunçarşı Caddesi ("Longmarket Street") to the Rüstem Paşa Mosque, and the Egyptian (Spice) Bazaar.

What to Buy

If you want to do some souvenir shopping in Turkey, there are many recommended items to choose from.
Of course, what trip to Istanbul is complete without a Turkish carpet? Turkish carpets are famous for their quality and designs, making them a popular purchase. Additionally, glazed tiles, pottery, and other types of ceramics showcase Turkey's rich artistic traditions and can serve as beautiful reminders of your trip.

Copper and brassware items are great for those interested in traditional crafts, while leather goods and textiles offer a range of clothing and accessories. Unique souvenirs like meerschaum pipes and handmade jewelry also make for special gifts or keepsakes. If you have an interest in antiques, Istanbul has a number of places to find antique items, but keep in mind that exporting antiquities is strictly prohibited.

Other essential shopping include Turkish coffee, tea, spices, Turkish delights, and lamps. With so many shops to choose from, it's generally wise to try to bargain. Avoid overly aggressive shopkeepers. And, if you find something that catches your eye, it is often wise to purchase it then rather than assume you'll be able to find the exact item in another stall or that you'll find your way back to the same shop.

Read our tips for exploring the Grand Bazaar and our guide to shopping in Istanbul.

When to Visit

The Grand Bazaar is open for business seven days a week, from 8.30 a.m. to 7 p.m. The only exception is the religious holidays. During the Ramazan Bayramı and the Kurban Bayramı holidays, the bazaar is closed.

How to Get There

The easiest way to get to the Grand Bazaar is via the Kabataş-Bağcılar tram. Due to having various gates, you can enter the bazaar from different locations. The best way, however, is by getting off at the Beyazıt/Kapalıçarşı station, or the Çemberlitaş Station.

Going by taxi is not typically recommended (and also certainly not cheap) because your taxi will have to negotiate a tortuous route around one-way streets, which will take too much time and be too pricey. Also, much of the bazaar must be navigated on foot and isn't accessible by car.

Nearby Sites

Located in the historical Peninsula, where almost all the history of Istanbul lies, the Grand Bazaar is surrounded by many different sites, with which you can easily combine your visit. Here are some of the top historical places;

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