A Fascinating Experience

Located in the heart of Istanbul is the oldest and largest covered market globally, surrounded by shops covered in roofs and domes. Every day, thousands of visitors and shoppers from all over the world visit the Grand Bazaar, which is popular and historically significant. With a 30,700 thousand square meters market area, the Grand Bazaar is true to its name. Located along 62 covered lanes, it is home to more than 4,000 shops selling everything from apparel to home décor to dishes associated with Turkish culture and cuisine. In addition, it was once a thriving center, and hub of the world’s trade and commerce and considered one of the very first shopping malls.

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Interior of the Grand Bazaar_©Tansel Tuzel
A journey through Istanbul's Grand Bazaar - Sheet2
Streets of the Grand Bazaar inviting natural light_©Grand Bazaar, Istanbul: How To Reach, Best Time & Tips (thrillophilia.com)

The Grand Bazaar is located in the Mahmutpaşa area of Istanbul’s historical peninsula, within the walls of the walled city. From west to east, it is roughly divided between the two mosques of Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye. As the conquest of Istanbul resulted in the Ottoman Empire’s trade network organization, its Grand Bazaar became the center of its trade. Originally, Inner Bedestan was a secure, compact stone marketplace serving the commercial needs of the city. It eventually expanded to become the center of the Grand Bazaar!

There are streets full of Helmet Makers, Fez Makers, Napkin Makers, Quilt Makers, Calligraphers, and Book Dealers, to name a few. One of the best ways to capture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul is to spend an afternoon exploring the Bazaar, sitting in a café, and watching the crowds pass by.  

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Arrangement of the stores and the planning_©Tansel Tuze

Architecture

The labyrinth-like size of the Bazaar astonishes first-time visitors and stimulates their intrigue in every way. The Grand Bazaar, founded in 1461, is reminiscent of a maze with its intricate design. In both a commercial and a tourism sense, Istanbul is a crucial point of attraction. There are 15 sections to the Bedestan in monumental architectural view. A decorative bedesten like this is one of the leading examples of Turkish architecture. These two characteristics of a bazaar are its inner qualities.

A building with thick internal iron bases was well known in the past. Traders would store valuable documents and jewelry here. The original stones and bricks have been replaced by brickwork and rubble. The design and aesthetics of Grand Bazaar are no less than masterpieces of Turkish architecture

Grand Bazaars’ Importance to Tourism

Traditional Turkish art can be found in carpets and jewelry made by hand. These items are sold with certificates of quality and origin and are shipped worldwide. To the visitors of the Grand Bazaar, in addition to carpets and jewelry, famous Turkish souvenirs made of silver, copper, bronze, ceramics, onyx, and leather are available.

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Ambience of the Bazaar_©Tansel Tuzel

Morphology of the Grand Bazaar

This wide east-west directed street also creates the central circulation axis between the Grand Bazaar and Süleymaniye Mosque, perpendicular to Nuruosmaniye and Beyazit. A grid system is structured between these main streets to include antique markets. The Grand Bazaar represents the Cartesian system, which does not attract users to the inner secondary axes from the central axis.

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Evolved in a rectangular form_©Tansel Tuzel

Unlike today’s Bazaar, which has a complex structure and developed surroundings of inns, it depended on associates’ facilities. The Bazaar has two pedestrian streets (domed market halls) strategically positioned at the center of the city’s commercial hub to attract merchants from across the empire. Four of the adjacent sides and the immediate vicinity of the Bazaar were surrounded by Hans (the business buildings), each of which was an independent unit. Near the south-western corner of the Grand Bazaar are four main gates that divide it into two main sections. The planning system is orthogonal – a Cartesian grid. Istanbul’s grid plan encourages a high degree of permissiveness in shopping.

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Arrangement of the display_©History of the Grand Bazaar Istanbul – Grand Bazaar Istanbul Online Shopping (grandturkishbazaar.com)

Attributes of the Functionality

While it may seem chaotic and crowded at first, the Turkish Grand Bazaar is orderly. This is due to its well-designed layout and the fact that people have their workstations. Here are some of the trades markets in Grand Bazaar:

  • There are jewelers and gold bracelets along Kalpakclar Caddesi
  • Kuyumcular Carsisi is lined with gold bracelets
  • The carpets along Sahaflar Caddesi
  • Leather goods along the Perdahçılar Caddesi
  • The Bit Pazari has leather and casual clothes

Additionally, it is possible to find 97 different organizations on the market where the product is sold. These institutions include health centers, police stations, banks, and post offices. Similarly, one can purchase items and get them cheaper without feeling ashamed. Indeed bargaining is an essential part of the Grand Bazaar!

Feel of the senses triggered in the Bazaar_©Tansel Tuzel

The Grand Bazaar – An Odyssey of Turkey

With its history and artistic items that shed light on the past, the Grand Bazaar has succeeded in preserving its importance among local and foreign tourists every year. In addition to being a manufacturer, it also leaves an impression on the shopkeeper who is close to the canvas and performs valuable hand labour activities. Istanbul would not be the same without the building inherited from the past. Thus, the structure is an essential link between the past and the present.

In the centre of trade and Istanbul, amidst meticulously crafted Calabash lamps, let us be ready for an adventure in the cradle of culture, embarking it to experience soon! 

References:

  1. www.turkishculture.org. (n.d.). The Covered Bazaar. [online] Available at: http://www.turkishculture.org/architecture/bazaar/the-covered-bazaar-98.htm
  2. Senacatal (2017). ARCH 302: Case Study: Traditional Spaces of Exchange in Turkish Context. [Online] Architect’s Journal. Available at: https://senacatal.wordpress.com/2017/03/05/case-study-traditional-spaces-of-exchange-in-turkish-context/
  3. www.thrillophilia.com. (n.d.). Grand Bazaar, Istanbul: How to Reach, Best Time & Tips. [Online] Available at: https://www.thrillophilia.com/attractions/grand-bazaar
  4. Grand Bazaar Istanbul Online Shopping. (2018). History of the Grand Bazaar Istanbul – Grand Bazaar Istanbul Online Shopping. [online] Available at: https://www.grandturkishbazaar.com/history-of-the-grand-bazaar-istanbul/.
  5. StamboulBazaar (n.d.). A Turkish Historical Journey: Istanbul Grand Bazaar – StamboulBazaar – Online Turkish Shopping. [online] Available at: https://stamboulbazaar.com/2021/10/03/a-turkish-historical-journey-istanbul-grand-bazaar/
Author

Neha Lad, an Architect soon to be, adds a taste of design and creativity to the world of Architecture enhancing Nature as an added sweet dish, bringing unique flavor to the norms of Biology. She aspires to become an architect who depicts life in harmony with nature, where writing is her predominant mode of expression.

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