Tourist’s guide to Grand Bazaar in Istanbul – Turkey’s largest indoor market

Turkey is a country living in trade, so bazaars are an integral part of it. Despite the emergence of modern shopping centers, market stalls are still in great demand by both tourists and local residents. And the main commercial site of the country can rightly be called the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, whose Turkish name sounds like Kapali Charshi. This is not only the largest shopping complex in Turkey, but also one of the largest indoor bazaars in the world.

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Many travelers come to Kapali Charshi not so much for shopping, but in order to catch the atmosphere of the eastern market. The beckoning flickering of gold items, carpets and lamps, full of colors, combined with spicy and coffee aromas seem to plunge visitors into a completely different dimension. Well, for shopping lovers, the bazaar will become a real paradise: after all, there is an opportunity to find absolutely any product presented in an incredibly rich assortment.

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Short story

Portrait of Mehmed II
Mehmed II

The idea to build a large market appeared in the 15th century under the rule of Mehmed II. At that time, two large stone buildings with domed ceilings, called Bedestans, were built on the site of the modern bazaar. It is noteworthy that Ottoman engineers did not create such an architectural style, but borrowed it from Byzantine architects.

At the time of Suleiman I, the bazaar began to expand due to additional wooden buildings. However, in the next two centuries, the market more than once found itself in the midst of major fires, which caused him enormous damage. After, during the repair work, it was decided to rebuild the new pavilions of stone. But this material could not save the Grand Bazaar from the strongest earthquake that happened in Istanbul in 1894. The main trading floor of the country was almost destroyed.

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul in 1890

Thanks to the lengthy restoration, the complex was restored, but exactly 60 years after the earthquake, it is once again surrounded by flames that incinerate recently rebuilt objects. Then the reconstruction of Kapala Charsh took more than five years. Until today, the complex was no longer exposed to the destructive action of the elements.

Over the centuries, not only the appearance of the bazaar has changed, but also the products offered within its walls. And if earlier Kapala charshi was subdivided into streets where only certain types of products were sold (for example, there were Streets of the Oruzheinikov, Jewelers, etc.), today such a gradation can no longer be found here.

It should be noted that the authorities have always regarded the trading platform as one of the main economic projects of the empire. The favorable location of the market attracted buyers both from the northern and southern countries, as well as from the eastern and western states. And this allowed Turkey to remain very competitive in the commercial sector and steadily replenish the treasury.

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Market structure and what you can buy

Photos of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul are not able to convey the full scale of this building. This is a real separate city in the city, living its own special life. The shopping complex spreads over an area of ​​more than 110 thousand m², 45 thousand m² of which are reserved for its covered part. Inside the bazaar there are 12 mosques, a hamam and even a school. In total, there are 61 streets, 40 hotels, 12 large warehouses and 50 catering establishments. And the number of shops exceeds all conceivable limits: there are more than 4300 of them on the market. The number of local ateliers, which is at least 2100, is also staggering.

Stock Foto Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
You can get to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul right through 11 gates

You can get to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul immediately through 11 gates, each of which has its own name. Once inside, the traveler is literally drowning in the variety of goods presented. Among them:

  • clothing
  • Souvenir products
  • Home textiles
  • Antiques
  • Brass and copper dishes
  • Gold Jewelry
  • Gold and silver jewelry
  • Spices
  • Different varieties of tea and coffee
  • Genuine leather items
  • Turkish delight, baklava, halva and other Turkish sweets

And this is only part of what you can buy at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. After a grand shopping, many tourists prefer to relax in local restaurants with a cup of Turkish coffee. And some are going to freshen up at the fountains, which, by the way, are here as many as 18 pieces. If you do not like to make purchases, then visit Kapali Charsh as a historical landmark of Istanbul, where old buildings with the decoration of the Ottoman era have been preserved.

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Practical information

You can get there by light rail

The Grand Bazaar is located in the historical district of Istanbul on Beyazit Square, 1 km northwest of Sultanahmed Square. You can get here by light rail, following the Kabataş-Bağcılar route towards Kabataş. You need to land at the Beyazıt stop or at Çemberlitaş station.

The Grand Bazaar in Turkey opens at 08:30 and ends its work at 19:00. The complex is available from Monday to Saturday, Sunday is a day off.

Useful Tips

In order for your acquaintance with Kapala Charsh to be successful, we advise you to pay attention to the recommendations below.

The prices here are overstated several times
  1. It should be understood that the shopping complex is primarily focused on tourists, and accordingly the prices here are overstated several times. Therefore, in order to profitably purchase things, you must definitely bargain.
  2. At the Grand Bazaar market in Istanbul, both quality products and dubious products are sold. Often unscrupulous sellers try to pass off a fake for the original. Therefore, be careful and accurate, and check the quality of the goods before buying.
  3. You should not make purchases in shops located at the gates and in the center of the complex. In more distant shopping arcades, you can find identical products 2-3 times cheaper.
  4. There are always a lot of people in the walls of a trading platform
  5. Some tourists even advise visiting Kapala Charsh in Istanbul for excursion purposes only and do not recommend buying goods in this market because of their unreasonable high cost.
  6. There are always a lot of people in the walls of the trading platform, and sometimes pickpockets can be wielded in the crowd, so watch your bags carefully.
  7. Do not forget about the opening hours of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul and calculate your time.

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The Grand Bazaar is an ambiguous attraction of Istanbul, which should be visited if you like shopping or just want to plunge into the atmosphere of oriental flavor. Opinions about Kapala Charsh are different among travelers: someone is delighted with what he saw, and someone is completely disappointed. In any case, visiting one of the largest markets in the world is worth at least for your tourist experience.

Video: what you can see at the Grand Bazaar and practical tips on how to best bargain.

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