Since the middle of the 15th century, the Grand Bazaar is the most famous bazaar in Istanbul and a shopping paradise par excellence.
Part of the Historical Peninsula, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985, the bazaar is like a hidden city full of wonders and treasures. Visitors can enjoy not only an incomparable shopping experience, but also a unique atmosphere that reflects Istanbul’s spirit. No wonder that the Grand Bazaar is one of the must-see attractions of Istanbul and attracts over half a million visitors every day.
In this guide, read everything you need to know before your visit, including history, things to do, entrance and hours
Let’s dive in into the colorful bazaar world!
Things to do at Grand Bazaar
Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. Since it is one of Istanbul's most visited tourist attractions, expect a large crowd.
The Grand Bazaar has 22 gates through which you can enter from all directions. The main entrance is the Beyazit Gate.
The huge complex also includes banks, foreign exchange offices, mosques, fountains, hammams, restaurants, coffee houses and even a post office.
Take a look at the highlights of the Grand Bazaar below:
1. Shopping, shopping, shopping
Shopping in the famous Grand Bazaar is an experience of a very special kind. The famous bazaar is truly the perfect place to seek out unique finds.
Covering an area of 45,000 square meters, there are more than 4,000 shops offering a variety of goods. Each quarter specializes in a particular type of goods. For this reason, each of the 60 covered streets bears the name of a particular type of merchandise, such as the İplikçiler (yarn sellers) or Altuncular (gold dealers).
See below a quick overview of what goods you can buy here:
- Oriental carpets
- Textiles (from plain fabrics to dresses and made-to-measure suits)
- Gold, Silver, Diamonds and Jewelry
- Leather, Silk & Fur Products
- Shoes, Bags and Accessories
- Household Goods
- Turkish Sweets
- Herbal and spices
Tip: If you come across something you like, don't be shy and take the opportunity to haggle like a local.
2. Feel the Daily Life of the Ottomans
Having preserved its authentic identity, the Grand Bazaar is just a remarkable place to get a feel for the Ottoman atmosphere of times past.
While discovering the old magic of traditional bazaar life, you can imagine the daily life of the Ottomans in the Old Istanbul. Feel the nostalgia of this famous historical covered market and dive into the fascinating culture and history of Istanbul.
Here, you can not only find everything you can imagine, but also experience the Orient and Eastern life up close!
3. Browse through the Alleys
Even if you aren’t a shopping fan, a stroll through the maze-like alleys of the historic bazaar is quite a unique Istanbul experience. You can spend hours here without noticing how time flies.
Although the bazaar follows a certain order, it is hard not to get lost in the hustle and bustle. But this is also an experience worth having: let yourself drift in the labyrinth of wide and narrow alleys and discover places off the beaten track.
Take in the bustling atmosphere and feel the unique energy. Listen to the traders shouting out deals in different languages, trying to lure visitors into their shops. This way, you may get the chance to encounter a lot of interesting people.
Discover elaborate decorations on the ceilings and floors of the historical bazaar, see some mosques located in the huge complex, or admire 250-year-old hand-drawn patterns that adorn many arches and walls.
Just keep your eyes and ears open, there is so much to discover...
4. Rest while enjoying a delicious Meal
Sightseeing and shopping can be very exhausting. Fortunately, there are restaurants and eateries everywhere, offering delicious Turkish food or snacks and cold or hot drinks.
Take a break and have a bite to eat in the historic setting of the Grand Bazaar. Or visit a traditional Turkish coffee and tea house to enjoy an authentic Turkish coffee slowly cooked over coal fire.
5. Instagram Spot
The Grand Bazaar offers a number of unique photo opportunities that capture the magic of the Orient like no other place. Here you will find yourself surrounded by colorful carpets, oriental lamps, backgammon shops and a sea of spices.
In particular, the stores with the illuminated mosaic glass lamps invite you to take an impressive shot! But be sure to ask for permission first. Who knows, you might even fall in love with one of these ornate lamps and want to buy one for yourself.
6. Enjoy great Views
The Grand Bazaar has even more surprises to offer. Something that many tourists don't know: The rooftops of the surrounding craftsmen's courtyards boast amazing views of the city.
Entrance, Tickets & Tours to Grand Bazaar Istanbul
How to get to Grand Bazaar?
The Grand Bazaar is located in the midst of the Beyazıt, Mercan and Nuruosmaniye districts. It has 22 gates through which you can enter from all directions. The main entrance is the Beyazit gate, just across Beyazit tram station.
From Sultanahmet: Take tram line 1 and go 2 stops to Beyazit station.
Alternatively, you can easily walk there for about 15 minutes.
From Taksim: Go by funicular F1 to Kabataş station. There you change to Tram line 1 and go 9 stops to the station "Beyazit Kapalıçarşı".
Frequently Asked Questions about Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar, in Turkish Kapalı Çarşı, was built in 1461 under Fatih Sultan Mehmed II, eight years after the Ottomans conquered the city.
The Grand Bazaar is placed in the midst of the Beyazıt, Mercan and Nuruosmaniye districts. It is part of the Historical Peninsula of Istanbul. The main entrance is the Beyazit gate, just across Beyazit tram station.
Yes, the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays, as well as on the first day of religious holidays.
The Grand Bazaar is open every day from 8:30 to 19:00, except Sundays and the first day of religious holidays.
In the Grand Bazaar, there are about 4,000 stores employing about 35,000 people, spread on 60 covered streets.
The Grand Bazaar covers an area of 45,000 square meters.
The Grand Bazaar is a great place to hunt for unique finds. Here you can find antiques, hand-woven carpets, textiles, shoes, handbags, leather goods, jewelry, gold and much more.
If you are still looking for a souvenir, this is exactly the place to look. From nazar boncuk (evil eye protector), fragrant soaps and Turkish Delight to oriental lamps, Tavla (Turkish backgammon board) and ceramics, the Grand Bazaar has something for everyone.
Historical Facts & Info about Grand Bazaar
The history of the Grand Bazaar dates back to the year 1461. Shortly after the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II the Conqueror ordered the construction of the Grand Bazaar to meet the needs of Hagia Sophia Mosque as well as to promote growing trade in the city.
Considered an important commercial center even then, the complex structure continued to develop over time and became the most important trading center in the entire region. At the same time, it also served as a financial center and a bank.
In its rich past, the bazaar has already survived more than 20 fires and several earthquakes. At the end of the 19th century, the Grand Bazaar got its current appearance: 4,000 stores with about 35,000 employees are distributed along 60 trade routes.
Today, the bazaar is a famous landmark of Istanbul and one of the most popular and largest shopping centers in the world.
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