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Grand Bazaar Istanbul - Visit Istanbul

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

Grand Bazaar Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily.

In 2014, it was listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.

Coordinates:  41°0′38.09″N 28°58′4.56″E
Location: Istanbul (Historically Constantinople) Turkey
Type: Covered Bazaar
Beginning date: 1455
Completion date: After 1730
Dedicated to: Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror


The Grand Bazaar is located inside the Walled city of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighbourhood (mahalle) bearing the same name (Kapalıçarşı). It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams (Beyazıt-Kapalıçarşı stop). Here is Google Map below.

Grand Bazaar Istanbul photos

Grand Bazaar today

Today the Grand Bazaar is a thriving complex, employing 26,000 people visited by between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily, and one of the major landmarks of Istanbul.

It must compete with modern shopping malls common in Istanbul, but its beauty and fascination represent a formidable advantage for it. The head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association claimed that the complex was in 2011 – the year of its 550th birthday – the most visited monument in the world.

A restoration project starting in 2012 should renew its infrastructure, heating and lighting systems. Moreover, the hans inside the Market will be renovated and later additions will be demolished. This project should finally solve the big problems of the market: for example, in the whole Bazaar there is no proper toilet facility (Now it solved and there are many toilet facility in Grand Bazaar). Moreover, the lacks of controls in the past years allowed many dealers to remove columns and skive walls in their shops to gain space: This, together with the substitution of lead (stolen in the last years) with concrete on the market’s roof, has created a great hazard when the earthquake expected in Istanbul in the next years will occur.

The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.[4]


The construction of the future Grand Bazaar’s core started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and was part of a broader initiative to stimulate economic prosperity in Istanbul. Sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles. It was named Cevâhir Bedestan (‘Bedesten of Gems’) and was also known as Bezzâzistan-ı Cedîd (‘New Bedesten’) in Ottoman Turkish. The word bedesten is adapted from the Persian word bezestan, derived from bez (“cloth”), and means “bazaar of the cloth sellers”. The building – named alternately in Turkish İç (‘Internal’), Atik (‘Ancient’), or Eski (‘Old’) Bedesten – lies on the slope of the third hill of Istanbul, between the ancient Fora of Constantine and of Theodosius. It was also near the first sultan’s palace, the Old Palace (Eski Sarayi), which was also in construction in those same years, and not far from the Artopoleia (in Greek) (Άρτοπωλεία), the city’s bakers’ quarter in Byzantine times.

Covering an area of 54.653 square meters, it also still ranks as one of the world’s biggest covered markets. istanbultrails.com

The construction of the Bedesten ended in the winter of 1460/61, and the building was endowed to the waqf of the Aya Sofya Mosque. Analysis of the brickwork shows that most of the structure originates from the second half of the 15th century, although a Byzantine relief representing a Comnenian eagle, still enclosed on the top of the East Gate (Kuyumcular Kapisi) of the Bedesten has been used by several scholars as proof that the edifice was a Byzantine structure.

In a market near the Bedesten, named in Turkish Esir Pazarı, the slave trade was active, a use also carried over from Byzantine times. Other important markets in the vicinity were the second-hand market (Turkish: Bit Pazarı), the “Long Market” (Uzun Carsi), corresponding to the Greek Makros Embolos (Μακρός Ὲμβολος, ‘Long Portico’), a long porticoed mall stretching downhill from the Forum of Constantine to the Golden Horn, which was one of the main market areas of the city,[11] while the old book market (Sahaflar Carsisi) was moved from the Bazaar to the present picturesque location near the Beyazid Mosque only after the 1894 Istanbul earthquake.

Some years later according to other sources, this occurred in 1545 under Sultan Suleyman I—Mehmet II had another covered market built, the ‘Sandal Bedesten’ (the name comes from a kind of thread woven in Bursa, which had the colour of sandalwood), also named Küçük (‘Little’), Cedit or Yeni (both words meaning ‘New’) Bedesten, which lay north of the first.

After the erection of the Sandal Bedesten the trade in textiles moved there, while the Cevahir Bedesten was reserved for the trade in luxury goods. At the beginning the two buildings were isolated. According to the 16th-century French traveller Pierre Gilles, between them and the Mosque of Beyazid stood the ruins of churches and a large cistern;. However, soon many sellers opened their shops between and around them, so that a whole quarter was born, devoted exclusively to commerce.

According to an 1890 survey, in the Bazaar there were 4,399 active shops, 2 bedesten, 2195 rooms, 1 hamam, one mosque, 10 medrese, 19 fountains (among them two şadırvan and one sebil), one mausoleum and 24 han. In the 30.7 hectares of the complex, protected by 18 gates, there are 3,000 shops along 61 streets, the 2 bedesten, 13 han (plus several more outside).

The last major catastrophe happened in 1894: a strong earthquake that rocked Istanbul. The Minister of Public Works, Mahmud Celaleddin Pașa, supervised the repair of the damaged Bazaar until 1898, and on this occasion the complex was reduced in area. To the west, the Bit Pazarı was left outside the new perimeter and became an open-sky road, named Çadircilar Caddesi (‘Tentmaker Road’), while the old gate and the Kütkculer Kapi were demolished. Among all the hans which belonged to the Market, many were left outside, and only nine remained enclosed in the structure.

In 1914 the Sandal Bedesten, whose handlers of textile goods had been ruined by the European competition, was acquired by the city of Istanbul and, starting one year later, was used as an auction house, mainly for carpets. In 1927 the individual parts of the bazaar and the streets got official names. The last fires of bazaar happened in 1943 and 1954, and the related restorations were finished on 28 July 1959.

The last restoration of the complex took place in 1980. On that occasion, advertising posters around the market were also removed.


The Iç Bedesten has a rectangular plan (43.30 m x 29.50 m). Two rows of stone piers, four in each row, sustain three rows of bays, five in each row. Each bay is surmounted by a brick dome with blind drum. In the inner and in the outer walls have been built 44 cellars (Turkish: mahzen), vaulted rooms without external openings. The sunlight in Bedesten comes from rectangular windows placed right under the roof: they can be accessed through a wooden ambulatory. Due to the scarce illumination, the edifice was kept open only some hours each day, and was devoted to the trade of luxury goods, above all textiles. Moreover, the Bedesten’s Mahzen were also used as safes. The building can be accessed through four gates:

“Second-hand Book Sellers’ Gate” (Sahaflar Kapısı) in the north,
“Skullcap Sellers’ Gate” (Takkeciler Kapısı) in the south,
“Jewellers’ Gate” (Kuyumcular Kapısı) in the east, and;
“Women’s Clothiers’ Gate” (Zenneciler Kapısı) in the west.
The Sandal Bedesten has also a rectangular plan (40.20 m × 42.20 m), with 12 stone piers bearing 20 bays surmounted by brick domes with blind drum. In this case shops are carved only in the outer walls. In both edifices, each bay is tied to the others through brick arches tied by juniper beams, and masonry is made with rubble. Both buildings were closed by Iron gates.

Aside the Bedesten, originally the Grand Bazaar structures were built with wood, and only after the 1700 fire, they were rebuilt in stone and brickwork, and covered. All the bazaar edifices, except the fur dealers market (Turkish: Kürkçüler Çarsısı), a later addition which is two-story, are one story. The roofs are mainly covered with tiles, while the part burnt in 1954 uses now tarmac. In the bazaar no artificial light was foreseen, also to prevent fires, and smoking was strictly prohibited. The roads outside the inner Bedesten are roughly parallel to it. Anyway, the damages caused by the many fires and quakes along the centuries, together with the repairs done without a general plan, gave to the market – especially in its western part – a picturesque appearance, with its maze of roads and lanes crossing each other at various angles.