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The Grand Bazaar
Istanbul's Grand Bazaar shouldn't miss from your list, as it generates one of those unmistakable and unparalleled "Istanbul feel" when visiting it.
It's a mixed covered market with streets forming a labyrinth-like layout.
The almost 5 centuries old bazaar is a good place for bargaining and buying souvenirs.
The Grand Bazaar is essentially a large covered retail area built in 1455 and, it is one of the oldest covered markets in the World. It's one of Istanbul's main attractions not to miss.
The Grand Bazaar's website shows some of the products that you can find in its labyrinth.
The labyrinth of the Grand Bazaar
The Grand Bazaar has 61 streets, more than 3,000 individual shops and receives over 250,000 visitors per day. Sometimes the number hits as high as 400,000.
Many small cities would like to attract that many people in an entire year. Though, the Bazaar attracts this many on a single day!
Someone told me "you can find anything in the bazaar"...
Well, it's an agglomerated place with all sorts of products, but I wouldn't say one can really find "anything".
The traditional Turkish products are plentiful, really all around.
It is undoubtedly a good place for buying souvenirs. Just don't forget to bargain!
So, what can you buy there?
Some of the most sold products in the bazaar are the textile products, like the rugs, for instance.
Jewelry and solid gold bullion bars are also on sale at various merchants.
But, be aware of the fact that you will most likely have to pay heavy taxes when bringing precious metals into your country. And you will have to declare them at the airports.
Now, let's see how to get to the Grand Bazaar...
I went straight on foot from Gülhane, but it's easier by tram, if you travel either to the Sultanahmet or the Sirkeci stations. From there, the Grand Bazaar is a short stroll away.
The bazaar isn't far from the Istanbul University building, just a bit further, deeper in from the main street where the trams circulate.
It did take a while to find the Grand Bazaar. I walked a bit astray and then I suddenly came across an entrance.
It's a huge complex, but not clearly visible from outside and it's a bit further (hidden) from the main roads in the area.
The bazaar has 4 main entrance gates.
A jewelry seller
Sahaflar Kapisi (Used Book Sellers' Gate) (north)
Takkeciler Kapisi (Skullcap Sellers' Gate) (south)
Kuyumcular Kapisi (Jewellers' Gate) (east)
Zenneciler Kapisi (Women's Clothiers' Gate) (west)
Except the 4 main gates, there are several other smaller entrances as well.
Although this bazaar is not as large as the Marrakech souk, it kind-of reminded me of my explorations there.
Lots of stall and tricky merchants trying to sell their products. Bargaining is possible and most of what you can buy are as good as souvenirs.
Within the Istanbul Grand Bazaar, it was fairly easy to get around and I even found the exit fast. Unlike in Marrakech...
The 61 streets of the Grand Bazaar aren't enough to get you confused and get lost like a mouse in a maze. Unlike in Marrakech...
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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