The Grand Bazaar is one of the biggest covered markets in the world. It was originally built in 1461, under the reign of Fatih Mehmet II. It contains around 4400 shops, 2195 workshops, 497 stalls and 18 fountains, all crammed into a maze of narrow streets below white canvas roofs. Each Day anywhere between 250,000 and 400,000 people pass through this legendary market. It is well known for its fine jewelry, red pottery, abundant spices, vibrant textiles and handmade carpet shops, not to mention countless cafes and traditional sweet shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather coats, gold jewelry and the like. The Grand Bazaar is located in the center of Istanbul, between the main boulevard and the Eminonu port. It is just a short walk from the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the colourful Spice Bazaar.
Sections of the Grand Bazaar
The core of the Grand Bazaar is made up of a few indoor shopping areas known by the Persian word 'Bedesten', these Bedesten's are then broken down into smaller sections selling specific items. The oldest are the Ic Bedesten and the Sandal Bedesten, together they make up the foundations of the Grand Bazaar, after their construction was completed other local traders began setting up their own stalls in the surrounding streets.
Interior (Ic) Bedesten
This is the oldest of the two buildings, Ic Bedesten was originally the centre for cloth trading but nowadays it is the most touristic part of the bazaar and houses a variety of souvenirs, precious gems, gold and silver, it is also referred to a Cevahir Bedesten or Jewelry Bedesten. The richly decorated interior provides a calm retreat from the chaotic outside streets, the building can be entered from one of its four protected gates.
Sandal Bedesten, or Yedi (New) Bedesten, is the second oldest building in the Grand Bazaar. In modern Turkish the word 'Sandal' translates as boat however you may be surprised to find that Sandal Bedesten is not the correct section for purchasing marine goods, nor is it the right locations for summer shoes. In this case the word 'Sandal' actually refers to the luxury cloth that was once sold there. The cloth was produced and transported from the city of Bursa, south of Istanbul. Although you can no longer find the fine Ottoman cloth, Sandal Bedesten still stocks a vast amount of gorgeous textiles, including woven rugs and carpets.