Grand Bazaar Overview

The world’s oldest and largest covered market is located in the heart of Istanbul! The popular and historical Grand Bazaar attracts thousands of visitors and shoppers every day from across the world. Grand Bazaar stays true to its name as the market space sprawls over an area of 30,700 thousand square metres.

It harbours over 4,000 shops, lined along 62 covered lanes that sell everything from apparels and home decor to edibles and items specific to the Turkish culture and cuisine. Explore this vibrant marketplace as part of your Turkey tours, where the historic grandeur and bustling commerce of this iconic destination seamlessly blend with your Turkish journey.

The world-known bazaar is associated with a rich background of history in terms of its conception. The first structure of the bazaar, Cevahir Bedesten was ordered to be built by Sultan Mehmed II for the sole purpose of trading of textiles and jewels, in order to collect income for Hagia Sophia.

In the present day, Grand Bazaar epitomises the Turkish architecture at its best and is one of the most appealing tourist spots Istanbul. It’s enormous structure is an eye-catching edifice in itself, reeling in people’s attention and curiosity from around the world.

Exploring the market through its many lanes serves as an experience that can only be regarded as unique, pertaining to its chic boutiques, range of shopping items and the massive size and variety it offers. The bazaar is as gigantic as a labyrinth, which is what astounds first-time visitors and holds their intrigue in every way.

The market remains open from 10 AM to 7 PM and stays closed on Sunday. It sells a variety of items, from carpets and ceramic items to hammam soaps and traditional confections. The magical Turkish lamps and jewellery also make a good part of the items sold at the shops here. Grand Bazaar has been one of the primary areas of attraction for tourists and continues to be so.

How To Reach

The distance between Istanbul Airport and Grand Bazaar is about 47 kms and takes about 50 minutes to reach by road. One can reach the bazaar from the airport using other means of transport too. This would require you to take the metro from the airport till Zeytinburnu and then catch a tram from Beyazit to the Grand Bazaar.

Best Time To Visit

Fall, from the months of December to February are ideally the best time to visit Grand Bazaar to explore and buy from the various shops available there, since this is when one can get good bargains and deals with lesser crowd present.

Summer, on the other hand, sees a surge of crowd from the months of June to October, since this is the ideal vacation period for many and a peak holiday season. However, one can also have a decent experience with a moderate crowd in the later part of April. 

The Grand Bazaar remains open from 9 AM to 7 PM and is closed on Sundays. The best time to visit the covered market is in the morning or any time before 5 PM. This is the time when it is less crowded and visitors can indulge in shopping, exploring the market with ease.

Other Essential Information

Grand Bazaar is situated in Istanbul, in the district of Faith. It stretches between the west to the east, roughly between the mosques of Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye.

Distance from Istanbul Airport to Grand Bazaar: The bazaar is about 47 kms away from the airport and can be reached easily either by road, in a car or a hired taxi, or via the metro and tram.

History of Grand Bazaar

Bearing rich historical significance more than it stands as a centre of trade and commerce, Grand Bazaar is the oldest and the first shopping malls and bazaars of the world. Its existence, architecture and current stature in the world is the grand aftermath of substantial instances in the country’s ancient past.

Over the centuries, the covered market and the world’s most famous shopping spots has evolved in various aspects and now stands to be what it is today. This grand shopping structure that reels in visitors everyday from across the world, came into being in the 15th century.

Its very initial structure was constructed under the command of Sultan Mehmed II, who essentially ordered the erection of a stone Bedesten, that is a domed building, a covered bazaar. This market was ideally conceptualized for the trading of textiles and jewels and to assemble funds for the Ayasofya mosque, Hagia Sophia.

The bazaar, named Cevahir reached its completion by 1460 while the second structure, Sandal was created some years later. These two Bedesten then became the centre of commerce and trade in Istanbul and soon began to be recognised globally. 

Soon Cevahir and Sandal were accompanied by other shops and stalls that began to grow around these structures. Later, they were also domed over and became the core of commercial life. The bazaar then morphed into a magnificent centre of buzz and business with a school, mosque, tomb, 20 inns and 16 fountains augmenting its value.

Though, a major part of these edifices were damaged as a result of earthquakes and fires, including the enormous earthquake in 1894. This period was a low point for the entire market, when it suffered a setback. However, it was soon reconstructed to its current state with the aid of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II. 

Architecture of Grand Bazaar

Resembling a massive maze, the Grand Bazaar aesthetic relays archaism and grandiose in certain aspects. The labyrinth, like a covered market of over 60 streets and 4,000 shops, attracts visitors from across the world due to its architectural and historical value.

The entire bazaar spreads across 30,700 thousand square metre and strikes across as a prominent edifice, boasting of its deep relevance of design and commerce. The large shopping bazaar displays a colourful structure at first sight, which exhibits striking design elements and intricate aesthetics.

This is the Cevahir Bedesten, marked by its monumental architectural significance and divided into fifteen separate sections. These sections are furthermore represented by domes, with the detailing of their interiors exhibiting the culture and traditionalism of Istanbul.

Sandal Bedesten, on the other hand was constructed in such a way that it would accommodate fifty other domes enclosing it. These two Bedesten, Cevahir and Sandal make for the primary bazaars of the Grand Bazaar, epitomizing the Turkish architecture and design in domes, in the rawest and realest form.

Bearing thick inner safe irons, these two bazaars are identified as the citadels of the bazaar. This is where traders would store their valuable documents and jewellery. In a nutshell, the architectural aesthetic and design of Grand Bazaar is no less than a true Turkish masterpiece. 

Grand Bazaar Shopping Etiquettes

With over 4,000 shops and 60 lanes to explore, the Grand Bazaar is no less than a maze, where you can explore, soak in the Turkish culture as a result of some tête-à-tête with the sellers, get offered some Turkish tea and of course, shop.

Whether you’re new to bargaining or are simply inclined towards passing up the idea of it due to lack of knowledge, here are some tips on shopping etiquettes at Grand Bazaar. First and foremost, don’t hesitate to put forward your quote of the bargained price on what you wish to buy.

Secondarily, feel free to walk around, explore various shops and options and take your time to come down to your final product to purchase. Making the most of Grand Bazaar is certainly not an hour-long affair. Have some extra spare hours to be able to stop by every other shop, see what you wish to buy, compare products and prices and then invest.

Moreover, it is important to know that drinking a cup of tea at shops is routine and doesn’t compel you to necessarily shop from them. One can take their time, move around, and shop wisely from wherever they wish to.

Things to Buy at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

- Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar has been a substantial centre of trade and commerce since its inception. Naturally, it has a horde of items to offer, from exemplary jewellery and textiles to carpets and hammam soaps. Although the covered market covers all the necessities and essentials of a household, there are certain items peculiar to the Turkish culture and traditions that are best shopped from here.

One such element is the ceramic collection; iznik bowls and Turkish ceramic like plats, mugs, vases, ashtrays and hanging ornaments are some popular boys at the Bazaar. They represent the stunning ceramic tiles of the Turkish monuments. 

Beautiful, colourful ornamental Turkish lamps easily rank as one of the best sellers at Grand Bazaar. These intricate, glass lamps make for that statement décor element for an abode and are definite head-turners in a room. 

The popular Turkish tapestry, Kilim rugs and carpets that are known worldwide for their aesthetic hand-crafted appeal, also known for their durability and quality, are famous amongst tourists, too. Kilims, crafted through flat-weaving techniques, come in all colours and sizes.

A variant of different gold and silver jewellery encrusted with coloured stones and gems also pays warm welcome to visitors at many kiosks at Grand Bazaar. These precious and intricate pieces, exhibiting the Turkish culture and craft appeal to individuals across the world. 

Traditional Turkish soaps that come in different aromas and types help exfoliate the skin and are also popular among tourists.

Hookah, AKA Nargile Pipes are a great sell at the bazaar too. 

When it comes to Turkish edibles, Turkish Delights and various traditional Turkish spices make for some mandatory items in your shopping list too.

Tips on visiting Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar is a massive space with over 60 lanes and around 4,000 shops. This makes it impossible to explore the market in restricted time. The most feasible thing to do here would be to spare one whole day for this sole purpose. 

Split the shopping day into two parts. One in the morning and one in the afternoon after a lunch break. This is when the crowd is minimal, and one can shop without hassle. 

It is also recommended to not rush and buy the first thing you see. 

Take your time, explore well and then invest in something.
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Grand Bazaar FAQs

What time does Grand Bazaar Istanbul close?

Grand Bazaar is open from 10 AM to 7 PM from Monday to Saturday. The covered bazaar remains closed on Sundays.

Is the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul safe?

Yes, Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is as safe as the rest of the Sultanahmet district, as it is one of the most prime areas of the city and is a bustling tourist spot.

Is it safe to walk around Istanbul at night?

It is relatively safe at night in Istanbul, especially in the developed areas like Sultanamet, Taksim and Cihangir. Although not unsafe, it is better to avoid walking in the other areas at night. These areas usually get dark and deserted considerably early in the evening and are regarded as conservative.

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