Results 11-20of 23 Reviews
March 1, 2004
A good way to arrive at the Grand Bazaar is to walk west along the tram tracks from the Sultanahmet area until you get to the Beyazit stop. Then cut north to enter the complex through one of its eighteen entrances. It is fun to wander around aimlessly even if you do not want to purchase anything, as you will see bright red Turkish flags draped all over the cavernous archways. The origins of the market date back to 1455, and the complex had been rebuilt many times over after several devastating earthquakes and fires. Nowadays the bazaar seems rather modern and civilized in here. I have been to bazaars and souks in Morocco and they seem to me much more frenetic and perhaps a bit more authentic than this one in Istanbul. Still, it is very interesting to check out the colorful maze of storefronts and stalls.
The Spice Bazaar (also the Egyptian Bazaar or Misir Carsisi), between the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Bridge, is much smaller but more fragrant and perhaps more exotic than its big brother. Located next to the Yeni Camii, the Spice Bazaar has an L-shaped layout and six entrances. A stroll through here is quite an experience for the eyes and the nose. Both the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar are closed on Sundays.
From journal Bill in Turkey - ISTANBUL
February 1, 2004
Unless you have excellent negotiation skills, it is not advised to shop here. But do not miss the architecture behind the shops.
If you would like to stop for lunch break, Havuzlu Lokanta is advised. This lokanta (simply restaurant in Turkish), typically lunch restaurant for the locals and the tourists still maintains good quality. You can choose your food by pointing at the window. Food is good, fresh but a bit more pricy than normal lokantas, which are spread all over the city, due to its unique location and reputable name.
To head to the Egyptian Bazaar, you should take Oruculer port.
From journal Istanbul in 3 days
July 28, 2003
I do remember liking the old bazaar - where supposedly antiques are sold. It is quieter and the wares are more interesting. However, no matter where you are in the bazaar, you cannot stop for even a moment to browse without being pelted with sales maneouvering. Really - you can't even look at something for a second. So shopping was difficult. We ended up at one place, drinking apple tea as Alli bargained for a tea set and I bought a lamp. We both overpaid significantly, and I actually got cheated. We were asked to go out later that evening for dinner, and I was kissed on the hand as I left while Alli was kissed on the cheek! Eek!
So, later I found out that he gave me the wrong change, knowing I would confuse the 100,000L note with the 1,000,000L note. That wiped out all my bargaining. And then he packed my purchases away out of my sight and forgot to include the "extra" hook he had thrown in. At this rate, I didn't ever want to dare bargain again.
The coolest part of the market is at the center, an antique section. Careful exploring around here - it's so easy to get lost. We found an exit, right into an old book bazaar and near Beyazit Square.
The bazaar's elaborate entrance is hard to miss, and when you see it, you know you have truly entered the world of Arabian Nights.
From journal Istanbul in June
Santa ROsa, California
November 15, 2002
Almost the entire bazaar is covered, so it's a great place to go if it's raining, or too hot. If you still get too hot, just wander into any carpet shop and they will close the door and turn on the AC, plunging the small room into subarctic temperatures in no time at all.
The shops sell almost everything. What was missing (and what I much preferred about the Moroccan medina) were the craftsmen creating the goods. Nothing is made in the bazaar; it's all imported (sometimes even from Turkey) and just sold here.
Although all the guide books warned us about how hopelessly lost you will certainly get, we found this was totally not the case. Not only were there street signs and tourist information signs up everywhere, but the layout of the city is pretty straightforward, with many landmarks (like the old bazaar) helping to locate you when you get lost. But again, nothing (and I mean nothing) compares to the complexity and confusingness of the market in Fez!
The Grand Bazaar is an easy 10 minute walk up the tram tracks from Sultanahmet. It is another *must see* when visiting Istanbul.
Be prepared to haggle. They expect it. You should never buy something for more than 50% of the original asking price. As the day wears on, sales get better - especially if the shopkeepers have had a bad sales day. After we finally agreed on buying a carpet, we got into a great conversation with the shopkeeper - we talked to him for an hour after closing. It's a great opportunity to meet Turkish people. It was clear to us that their friendliness wasn't just a ploy to get us to buy, as it continued well after the sale, even when we made it clear that we wouldn't be back in Istanbul for a long time, if ever.
Although a lot of deals can be had, a lot of ripoff's can also be had. It's been said that the Grand Bazaar has the best and the worst of Turkish shopping, and I have to agree. Be aware of the prices and set expectations before you enter the bazaar.
From journal Istanbul (not Constantinople)
September 21, 2002
From journal Exciting Istanbul!!!!
New York, New York
February 14, 2002
A laundry list of my numerous purchases indicates what’s available:
* Dozens of glass medusa’s eyes (varying sizes)
* Turkish flag t-shirt
* Loose spices such as saffron and cumin
* Five spice sets (there are many varieties)
* Inlaid wood and mother of pearl backgammon set
* Two hookahs, one 3-foot bronze and one painted glass
* Two hanging lanterns (metal and fabric)
* Loose black and apple teas
* Various bracelets and earrings
* Two embroidered throw blankets with sewn-in mirrored pieces
AND (drum roll here)
* Two gorgeous handmade Turkish rugs!!
The endless rows of vendors call out in a deafening cacophony of such lines as "for you, special price!" or "I have many things beautiful like you," et cetera. The aggressive selling techniques are commonplace—it’s rare to go by a quiet stall or a passive vendor, unless the man is tired or on a break, say, during Friday prayer.
Which reminds me, Friday midday is a less hectic environment than usual. Many Muslims attend a Friday service, and inside the Grand Bazaar is no exception. There is a mosque on premises and the call to prayer is heard throughout the halls of the bazaar. At this time, you'll have less vendors to choose from than usual, but it is also a mellower scene and you can still buy anything you want, as so many booths sell very similar products.
Bargain to your heart's content! This is most definitely expected behavior, and the set prices and even the "special price just for you" are incredibly inflated. I bought a gorgeous, weighty, bronze hookah with calligraphic and vegetal designs for a fraction of what my "final" deal was to be. This occurred near closing, which is good trick to know: Salesmen will generally come down much farther in price by the end of the day as they either just really need to make a sale or sometimes because they more than made up for it by overcharging unsuspecting (or generous) patrons earlier in the day.
It also never hurts to hang out and befriend your salesmen. Not only might you get a couple really great deals, but also you'll learn a great lot about the business of the bazaar and about Istanbul itself. For the most part, I found the vendors respectful and very eager to talk and practice English. Many even served me apple tea and a few even had seats brought for my companions and me! They certainly won my loyal business by doing such things, but more importantly they enhanced my affinity for this extraordinary but crazy place.
From journal ISTANBUL: Inspiring (and Sometimes Irascible)
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
November 14, 2001
Other than Kusadasi, the salespeople here were some of the most persistent we met but most were fine with a firm "no thanks".
The architecture of the Bazaar is really interesting - the outside reminded me of a mosque, without the minarets. Inside, some of the sections in the middle were built in the 15th century and the colors and designs on the walls and ceilings were breathtaking.
As well as stores, there are a number of restaurants and small stands where you can get a snack or a cup of tea (chai) and if you're lucky enough to find an empty table, you can rest up for your visit to the next section of shops.
It's easy to get lost in the Bazaar and we never managed to go out the same door we'd gone in but that just helped us to explore the areas around the Bazaar.
As well as the shops inside, enterprising vendors set up stalls or tables outside and sell everything from leather to housewares. Although prices were cheaper than inside, we still found it more expensive than the Spice Bazaar or other, less touristed areas of Istanbul.
Within easy walking distance of the Bazaar, you'll find Istanbul University and Beyazit Camii, the oldest standing mosque in Istanbul.
The Grand Bazaar is about 15 minutes on foot from many of the major sights like the Blue Mosque and Ayasofya. A tram line runs nearby so it's easy to get to and from most points in Istanbul.
From journal A Taste of Istanbul
Bayside, New York
August 11, 2001
We were positively stunned upon entering the bazaar, and landed into "gold alley". You wonder how it is that people survive selling the exact same thing as the guy next door. You can haggle here to your heart's content, and it is expected. Its corridors, alleys within alleys, are covered with ribbons of tourists babbling in every conceivable language.
You'll see Turkish carpets, pottery, jewelry, olive oil soaps, clothing, shoes, souvenirs galore, statuettes, lots of blue evil eye symbols which are put on everything from glass mugs to t-shirts. There were enough leather jacket places to fill all of Macy's. Crystal goods, copper trinkets, small cafés, tea and sweets (as in helwah, or halvah, as we call it), sandals, shoes & magnificent decorative chargers made of Iznik and other tiles.
Vendors will try to bring you into their shop or stall; you can say no politely and continue. This bazaar is like a labyrinth; it has over 4,000 shops in its domed passages. It is impossible to see Istanbul without a day or two here.
From journal The Wait for Turkey - Finally!
London, United Kingdom
July 10, 2001
Many things you can think of are for sale within the bazaar - leatherwork is common, for example, with lots of places selling jackets, shoes, slippers, bags, etc. We looked at a couple of jackets, but found the quality was a bit variable – some were very well made, others less so. If you intend buying one, I’d check the stitching and cut carefully before you part with your money. Should you find one you like, that is well made, it’ll be a bargain.
One street we looked at with interest was entirely given over to jewellery, much of it gold. Turkish jewellery is quite exuberant, and elaborate. There was also some Lapis for sale, which I like very much, but feel awkward about buying given its Afghanistan, Taliban-funding origins.
Of course, the biggest category of things for sale appears to be carpets, that renowned Turkish product. Carpet salesmen are the pushiest of the lot, and tails of scams abound among travellers and guidebooks. If you are careful, look around, and buy something you like at a price you are happy with, then a Turkish carpet can be a great purchase. I’d personally be very careful of spending a lot of money on one, other than at a very reputable shop. I looked at several shops on my first trip to Istanbul in 1997, before buying a small Kelim, a type of wool rug. It’s approximately 2 foot by 4 foot in size, with geometric patterns in red, light blue, navy blue, and cream. It has been on the floor of my room for the last 4 years, and has proved hard-wearing and attractive. It cost me about 8 pounds, and I regard it as money very well spent.
The bazaar is open Monday to Saturday, from 8:30am to 6pm.
From journal Enchanting Istanbul
June 27, 2001
The bazaar grew from shops that lined the streets. Then the space between them was covered over for more convenient shopping. The resulting arcades were covered with roofs and arches. Each street became the center of one particular trade.
At the center of the covered bazaar is the bedestan, a section dedicated to the antiques. The bazaar is entered through four main gates, the Gates of the Goldsmiths, the Cap-Makers, the Woman’s Garments and the Jewelers. The main streets were named the streets of the Tent-Makers, Quilt-Makers, Fur Hat-Makers, etc.. Outside the western gate to the bazaar, through a doorway, is the Old Book Bazaar where you can buy both new editions and antique volumes in Turkish and other languages.
Come to the Grand Bazaar to shop, browse through the numerous shops, or simply admire the architecture. Experience the Turkish salesmanship and hospitality. Don't be afraid to accept a cup of apple tea from a willing salesman. But remember to bargain. The first price is never the last price !
From journal Mysterious Istanbul