Istanbul is a timeless city; a bridge between east and west and world class cultural and historical centre. Whenever I visit Turkiye I make sure to include time in Istanbul to see friends and family. The only problem I face is usually having too little time when there is such a wealth of cultural attractions and things to see and do.
There are certain things I always make sure to do – such as crossing the Istanbul Bogazi (Bosphorous) by ferry boat in order to take in the fabulous river and city views, stocking up on supplies of the highest quality coffee from Mehmet Efendi (trading since 1871 and specialising only in Turkish Coffee), visiting The Blue Mosque – and of course sampling my favorite Turkish foods.
Since it had been quite some time since I had visited the Grand Bazaar, on my most recent visit I went to see it – one side benefit being the cooler temperature inside its walls than outside!
The Grand Bazaar is based between Nuruosmaniye and Mercan ve Beyazıt. Dating back to 1461, it was started by Fatih Sultan Mehmet (who conquered Istanbul in 1453) and completed by Kanuni Sultan Süleyman (Suleiman the Magnificent). It is the oldest and largest shopping complex in the world with a unique oriental atmosphere and charm which no visitor could ever be disappointed by. Accessed by no fewer than 22 entrance gates, it comprises 64 Streets, 16 Han (Inn), and approximately 3600 shops occupying 45000 square meters of covered area. An average of 20,000 people actually live in it and depending on the season, 300,000 to 500,000 people visit it each and every day. Be careful not to get lost – you may never find your way out!
The Grand Bazaar never ceases to amaze me. I enjoyed a lovely traditional style Turkish coffee in a small coffee shop there whilst watching people flowing in and out of shops and streaming down the streets of this great shopping and trade centre – a unique combination of the old and the new – the ancient economic heart of the Ottoman Empire.
17 September 2013