Known as the ‘Kapalı Çarşı’ (Covered Market) one of the oldest, largest covered markets in the World, and one of the most visited place. In 2014, it was the most visited touristic place with over 90 million visitors.
The Grand Bazaar was the most important economic compound over the centuries. And still, it keeps its importance even today. Located in the İstanbul, on a total area of 30000 m2, makes itself a must-see landmark. Older than 550 years, and still keeps most of the cultural traditions within its shops, you can feel like you’re walking in the old times. The Grand Bazaar was begun constructed immediately after the conquest of Constantinople, as a well-thought project of reviving economic prosperity in the city. The ruling sultan specifically wanted this initiative near his palace.
Some historians say that the Grand Bazaar is the economic ‘Hearth’ of the Ottoman Empire. And the Topkapı Palace is the ‘Brain’ of it. Ordered to build by Sultan Mehmet, who ordered the construction of the Grand Bazaar, Topkapı Palace used by sultans for almost four hundred years. Even after Dolmabahçe Palace begun to use for such things, Topkapı Palace never lost its importance due to its magnificence. Most of its parts can be visited and the treasures it holds showcased in the rooms and chambers inside. The important thing about the Topkapı Palace can be explained simply. Hagia Sophia represents the protection of a great Byzantium construct that kept even when conquered by Islamic empire. Topkapı Palace represents creating a building from nothing, to a higher place among these wonders. And the Grand Bazaar represents improvement of the Byzantium market, not pillaging or raiding it. After all these centuries, it houses jewellers, carpets, leather goods, leather and casual clothes, furniture and antics mainly. And it contains many more to discover.
1. Dhoku & EthniCon
Mehmet Gureli, a third-generation carpet salesman who runs EthniCon and Dhoku, made his award-winning and successful journey in Grand Bazaar. These two brands cooperating perfectly, and ironically facing each other in Grand Bazaar. On the customers’ side, it has the most reasonable price for genuine, handmade, contemporary Turkish carpets. For someone inside the carpet industry, they are the pioneers of the patchwork trend, one of the most popular in the carpet industry. This patchwork, or known as ‘pieced work’ involves sewing together pieces of fabric into a larger design. This makes patchwork a creative style to make carpets. And the number of awards Dhoku & EthniCon tells us how good they are at creativity.
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2. İznik Art
Pottery shows a civilization’s cultural growth. And İznik Art shows one of the most complex and beautiful tile art in 21th century. Ismail Yiğit, the owner of the İznik Art, located his shop in the Grand Bazaar. In here you can find tiles, panels, bowls, vases and much more. Ironically this shop has said to be more variety of pottery than you can find in İznik. Apart from Ottoman pottery, you can find modern and other styles of tile arts too. Good prices for quality tile art and pottery, customer care makes this shop almost always reviewed in a good way, and makes one of the few owners of the real Grand Bazaar hospitality.
If you’re into collecting rare objects, Grand Bazaar offers to sate that hunger too. Having more than fifty antique shops you can find yourself lost in the mysteries of past. And Eski is one of the best shops that can offer it. Thanks to the location of İstanbul, crossroads of three continents, you can find Russian, German, Greek, Egyptian and many more cultures relics in the Grand Bazaar. Mostly you can find masks, guns, medallions, swords and jewellery from 19th or 20th century kind of stuff. But having so much potential as a market, people from far far away comes to sell their antiquity in here too. Rarely, American and Chinese relics can be found. Apart from that, there is a district made only for old antique books. To some, it’s impossible to discover the rare objects Grand Bazaar has to offer. So if you don’t have much time, you can start with Eski and ask for your taste in antique, they will direct you to the right shops.
4. Nick’s Calligraphy Center
Nick Merdenyan, a shop owner in Grand Bazaar, may have has the most unique calligraphy art in Grand Bazaar. He is not only doing fantastic jobs in visual art of writing but also a unique person to get know of. “I tried to implant the idea of kindness between all religions and cultures,” he says. And he manages well as you can see in his success of calligraphy. Leaf petals jewelled with religious symbols and alphabets of many languages brings attraction and commendation to this man’s job. You should never skip this shop in your tour of the Grand Bazaar, even seeing fruits of this art will make you leave with awe.
One of the most popular thing in Anatolia is the Turkish Bath. And Abdulla is the most interesting one. Turkish Bath, a tradition of ages is one of the most intriguing and delightful experiences you can have. And part of this relaxation comes from atmosphere and ‘Tellak’, but the rest of it comes from materials used. And for quality, handmade, natural materials Abdulla is the first answer. Originally a coffee shop owner in the Grand Bazaar, Metin Tosun made a success in towels and natural soaps with his Abdulla shop. Having an interest in textile even in young age, Metin Tosun traveled the world in his youth. After his journey complete, he opened Abdulla with a little delay. But even with the delay, he blended old traditions with modern style and made an impressive brand. All products crafted in handmade and with natural materials. With his powerful east-west blend style this shop is a must-see place.
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6. Lumes Chandeliers (Lümes Avize)
Another interesting thing about the Grand Bazaar is, it houses mediocre quality as well as the best in the industry. Lumes Chandeliers is one of them. Located in the Grand Bazaar, this one and only chandelier shop in the compound made chandelier to the Çırağan palace itself. Even to some sources, sometimes they get work orders from royalty families from other countries. World-class craftsmanship and style can be found in the Grand Bazaar. And Lumes Chandeliers is proof of that.
7. Koç Leather and Fur (Koç Deri)
Owned by İlyas Koç, this leather manufacturer is one of the best in the Grand Bazaar. Many may not heard Koç Leather, but their outwears can be seen on TV shows, models, actors and artists. You can even find Hollywood actors recommending Koç Leather. They even manufactured jackets to Armani and Dolce & Gabanna. Even with these factors, their product is low priced considering its quality. One of the best in this industry, if you look for leather clothing, Koç Leather is your first stop.
8. Recep Karaduman
Opened its doors on 1985, Recep Karaduman is one of the known carpet shops. Mostly Anatolian handmade rugs can be found here, along with carpets. A small and humble shop could surprise you, these rugs differ due to the regions they made and they have a high price. Handmade regional rugs are hard to come by these days, because of that and quality of the material and craftsmanship ascends the prices. You can even find fifty to seventy years old carpets and rugs here.
9. Sevan Bıçakçı
The ‘Star-Jeweler’ of Turkey. Or ‘King of Rings’ some may say. Sevan Bıçakçı is the world-famous jeweler located in the Grand Bazaar. You may find the prices too high when you arrive his shop, but it’s easy to say his collections and designs are world-class and deserves it. Started his journey around 1980, Sevan Bıçakçı one of the most humble, kind and popular jeweler in the Grand Bazaar. The most known ring design ‘Sultanahmet’te Yağmur’ brought him an international award from Las Vegas. One in a kind rings with mostly gold and silver materials, Sevan Bıçakçı is the perfect place to buy jewelry gifts.
10. Kafkas Jewellery
Opened in 1951, Kafkas Jewellery is the most sincere jewel store in the Grand Bazaar. Owner Fuat Kırgız can be seen in a conversation with customers, offering them tea and bagel. Having a major popularity and an interesting customer history like Rockefeller, some Holywood actors and kings from other countries, Kafkas Jewellery is an interesting shop to see. Specially designed jewel crafts and this popularity may make you feel like you’re going to see too high prices and arrogant workers. But all you’re going to see a warm smile, a cup of tea and kind hospitality.
11. Melda Silver Shop
Owned by Garo Halepli, Melda Silver Shop is open for over 180 years. As a sixth-generation jeweller, Garo Halepli is a proud and popular person and loved by his workers. Names like Henry Kissinger, Seyh Zaid, Mihail Gorbaçov are once hosted in here as customers. And to some sources, this store treats is customers with respect as long as customers respects them. Some say one time Garo Halepli asked a royalty family to leave when they asked workers to get out for their tradition of ‘no man allowed around women’. Even this points out that the owner’s and workers’ kindness is real. All the production made by them, and one of a kind designs. One of the highest sell they made is a jewelled box for ten million Turkish liras. For these sales and customer history, they have a humble attitude for all customers. You can find silver necklaces, rings and bracelets among other things.
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Born and raised Istanbulite. Keeping an eye on the opportunity to explore this ancient city even more. Trying to do the best for nature.