Grand Bazaar, the Magic of History

Grand Bazaar

Updated On: April 15, 2024 by   Fatma MohamedFatma Mohamed

Let’s take a short trip to The Grand Bazaar and witness the magic of history. It is a place that will remind you of Arabian Nights and “One Thousand and One Nights”, which you see in movies, or read about its magic in books.

It is considered one of the world’s oldest and largest covered bazaars. However, you have yet to hear of it. In that case, Grand Bazaar is located in Istanbul, or ‘Kapalıçarşı’, which means ‘Covered Market’ in Turkish. 

grand bazaar

The Grand Bazaar includes 4,000 stores and about 25,000 employees. The market attracts almost 400,000 people daily and more on its busiest days. The giant bazaar was ranked in 2014 as the most visited tourist place, with about 91 million visitors. 

If you intend to visit Istanbul one day, take the chance to see the Grand Bazaar, you will have a unique shopping experience there. You will learn more about it in the following few lines.


The Grand Bazaar is located in Istanbul, between the Bayezid II Mosque and Nur Osmaniye Mosque. You can reach the historical bazaar from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by Tram.


grand bazaar

The covered market is one of the most famous shopping destinations in the world. It dates back to the Ottoman period. Sultan Fatih ordered its construction in 1460 to provide funding for the Hagia Sophia Mosque renovations.
Sultan Fatih ordered the building of the bazaar in 1460. The bazaar served as a treasury for the state, where jewellery and other valuables were kept, such as gems, precious metals, and jewelled weapons.

If we come to the basic structure of the market, we find that it consists of two internal markets. The two covered bazaars form the core of the Grand Bazaar. The first one is ‘İç Bedesten’. Bedesten goes back to the Persian word Bezestan which comes from bez, meaning “cloth”, so Bezestan means “bazaar of the cloth sellers”.

Its other one is Cevahir Bedesten means ‘Bedesten of Gems’. There is a possibility that this building goes back to the Byzantine era and measures 48 m x 36 m. 

The second bazaar is the new Bedesten which was to be built by order of Sultan Fatih in 1460 and is known as ‘Sandal Bedesten’. It got its name because Sandal fabric made from cotton and silk is sold here. 

As said before, 1460 was the year the Grand Bazaar was built. Before that, the real big bazaar was constructed in wood by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Like a great maze, it consists of 66 streets and 4,000 shops on 30,700 square meters and is an unparalleled and must-see centre of Istanbul.

grand bazaar

This site is like a covered city which has developed and changed in some features over time. The bazaar -which witnessed many earthquakes and fires, took its current shape through reconstruction work. That continued for four years during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid after it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1894.

Until recently, there were five mosques, one school, seven fountains, ten wells, one fountain, 24 gates, and 17 inns. The streets and alleys of the Grand Bazaar were named after the work done there, such as jewellers, mirror shops, fez makers and oil workers.

The two old buildings with thick walls from the 15th century, covered with a series of domes, became a shopping centre in the following centuries. It happened by hiding the developing streets and making some additions. Unfortunately, the Grand Bazaar suffered from an earthquake and several major fires at the end of the last century. It was restored as before, but some of its past features have changed.

In the past, The Grand Bazaar was a market where certain professions and jobs were located on every street. The manufacture of handicrafts was under strict control and commercial ethics. The customs were highly respected. The families specialised in their fields for generations. They were selling all kinds of precious fabrics, jewellery, weapons and antiques with complete confidence.

The Grand Bazaar Today

Currently, there are a lot of things changed in the Grand Bazaar. For example, some professions only have their names on the streets of the Grand Bazaar, such as quilts, slippers and fez makers or sellers, because their careers became extinct with time and development and were replaced by other jobs more suitable for the time.

Everyone should visit this place at least once for shopping or a cultural trip. In the past, the Grand Bazaar’s shops were more than just business places; people used to have long conversations about everything there not only business.

At that time, the shops were not in the same form as they are today. Instead, the shelves served as showcases, and the shopkeepers sat on benches right in front of them. The customers will be sitting next to them and chatting over Turkish tea or coffee.

Reasons Why to visit the Grand Bazaar

grand bazaar

Suppose you are a shopaholic and want a free shopping tour, or visiting Turkey and want to buy souvenirs, or wish to take a historical, cultural time among the fragrance of the past; if you are any of these, here you have found what you are looking for in the Grand Bazaar. 

You can get lost in its many streets, enjoy the distinctive Turkish coffee fragrance, and taste the delicacies for which Turkey is famous. Then you can reach for handcrafted products while being carefully crafted. What else can you find in the Grand Bazaar? In short, you can find almost everything in this magnificent, one of the world’s oldest markets.  

One of the well-known products in which the Turks are masters, are carpets. Handmade carpets and jewellery are the best examples of traditional Turkish art. They are sold with certificates of quality and origin and guaranteed shipping worldwide. 

In addition, there are a rich collection of famous Turkish works made of silver, copper, and bronze souvenirs and decorative items, ceramics, onyx and leather, and high-quality Turkey memorabilia. 

 You can also see the splendour of carefully made lamps and the glamour of bright lights that will catch your eye when you see them. Along with skin care products such as soap and creams made from 100% natural materials, clothes and bags, you will find everything you want to buy there.

The Grand Bazaar is open daily from 09:00 to 19:00, except for Sundays and official holidays.

Here, dear reader, we have reached the end of that exciting journey through the sides of the Grand Bazaar, the mind-blowing historical and vital building in Turkey. The bazaar has been an essential spot in Turkey and the world for many years and has become a huge commercial centre.

It attracts tourists and visitors from all over the world, and it receives thousands of visitors daily. I hope you enjoyed your trip to the fantastic shopping and cultural centre. Check the following link to learn more about Turkey and the attractions there: Top 10 Things to do in Cappadocia, TurkeyYour Full Guide to Visit 20 Places in Turkey10 Best Things to do in Izmir: the Pearl of the Aegean Sea.

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