Grand Bazaar - Grand Bazaar information and pictures

Istanbul, which used to be known as Constantinople, is the only city in the world located on two continents. The "Old City" (called Stamboul by Europeans) is located in Asia, the "new city" is located in Europe, separated by the Bosphorus Strait.

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar Kapali Çarsisi, one of the oldest and largest covered marketplaces in the world, is located in Stamboul, and is accessible on a tram route. (Taxi fares can be expensive, because of the narrow streets through which the drivers must wind). The taxi will drop you off outside the bazaar, which is pedestrian only. Visitors can wander into over 4000 shops, scattered among its 60 streets, with the entire area covered against the hot sun.

The Grand Bazaar is a popular location for both residents of Istanbul and tourists, and as a result it is jam-packed at all times. By the end of a single day, over 200,000 people will have walked through its streets. Over 20,000 people work within the bazaar, and it covers over 31,000 square meters. The bazaar is open every day except Sundays and public and religious holidays. The hours are from 09:00 to 19.00.

The bazaar is roughly divided into several sections, each selling a single item or related items - stalls selling pottery will all be located along one alley, gold jewelry in another, food and spices in another. Occasionally a rogue shop can be found, but generally this plan is followed.

Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror ordered the building of a dome for what would become this bazaar in 1455, and by 1461 it was completed. In its initial incarnation it was not a covered market, but as it grew and grew over the years domed roofs were added. It was enlarged in the 16th century, at the behest of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Throughout the years fires and other devastation have taken their toll, and it has been necessary to repair, restore or rebuild, but throughout it all the bazaar retains its old-Turkish charm.

There are also several gates from which pedestrians may enter and exit. Within the bazaar, visitors will enjoy sitting next to one of the four fountains, and will find several cafés and restaurants at which to dine. There are two mosques, for the convenience of Muslims, who are called to prayer five times a day) There is also a police station, for unfortunately thieves do business in the bazaar as well, and pick-pocketing and bag-slashing is a problem. However, if visitors take precautions, they should not be molested.

Visitors to the Grand Bazaar may expect that they will be able to haggle and beat prices down with the shop vendors, but this once-popular pastime has gone out of style. These days, many stalls have set prices for their wares and no haggling is allowed. Several shops (or souks) will have commission agents sent out into the streets to persuade visitors to enter their shops. Most of the souks will have mulit-lingual vendors.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul
Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

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