Shopping is not just a chance to buy shiny new things, but it can also be a historic experience, somewhere to enjoy history, dating back centuries.
The world is full of ancient marketplaces, souks, bazaars and general places of shopping merriment, but one of the oldest on the planet is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.
Aside from being in the heart of one of the most beautiful and historic cities, a city which straddles two different continents, Istanbul is home to this fantastic shopping experience. Prepare to be transported back in time!
First things first, when visiting the Grand Bazaar, prepare to get lost! Don’t worry, even the locals manage to get themselves a little misplaced from time, as this maze of stalls includes 61 covered streets, and more than 3000 shops. In terms of spices, trinkets, clothes, mementos of your time in Istanbul, Turkish delight, fruit, and all manner of other items to buy, you will really struggle to not spend your precious liras here!
You can also expect crowds, as the Grand Bazaar is visited by upwards of 250,000 people every single day. In 2014 it was stated to be one of the word’s most popular tourist attractions, and it’s very unlikely that you’ll find a time of day when crowds aren’t in abundance. Because of this, you can expect a plethora of colours, noise, scents, and a generally busy feel which is a truly intoxicating experience for the first, second, or third time visitor.
The first mention of the Grand Bazaar in history goes back as far as 1455, and the Ottoman conquering of then Constantinople (now Istanbul). For this reason, the building itself and the general architecture is definitely worth a look. You are literally walking back in time when you enter this marketplace.
How to Get to The Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar is located in the oldest part of Istanbul, e.g. Fatih and Sultanahmet. The bazaar stretches between two picturesque and important mosques, namely Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye. You can easy reach the Grand Bazaar on foot, or you can jump on the very easy to use Metro system. You simply need to get off at the Sultanahmet stop and follow the brown sides for the Grand Bazaar, which is just a few minutes’ walk away.
If you’re buying anything in this fantastic spot, remember to haggle. It practically expected here, so do your best to drive the price of your shopping down! Don’t be afraid to give this a go, and the market vendors are very experienced at dealing with foreign visitors who are a little worried about haggling/bargaining for the first time.
It’s time to shop ‘til you drop in the walls of history!