Saturday, December 15, 2018

An Enchanting Labyrinth

The Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) in Istanbul is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. 

According to
The Guide Istanbul, "The original historical core of the bazaar, iç Bedesten, was completed by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461. A “bedesten” refers to an indoor arcade with shops and there are several areas within the bazaar referred to by this name.

Over the years, the Grand Bazaar expanded from this core of two bedestens to become a sprawling roofed complex of thousands of shops, fringed by the tradesmen’s inns and workshops known as hans. According to the Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi’s Seyahatname, by the seventeenth century the Kapalı Çarşı (or the Çarşı-yı-Kebir as it was known at the time) had reached its present size, with over 4,000 shops and nearly 500 stalls known in Turkish as cabinet (literally translated to “cupboard”).

In addition, there were various other amenities for the merchants who worked there: restaurants, a hammam, and a mosque, as well as at least 10 smaller mescits, or prayer rooms. Today, this city-within-a-city contains a police station, a health dispensary, a post office, branches of most major banks, and a tourist information center."
The Grand Bazaar is 330,452 square feet (30,700 square meters) and "contains 4,400 authentic shops, 25,000 full-time staff, 61 covered streets, 18 gates that open to various points of the city, mosques, fountains, 40 rest houses, and looks as much to the present as it does to the past. Its high ceiling is covered with a dome that has hundreds of windows."  All of the shops are open Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm.  It is closed on Sunday.  
Because we weren't in Istanbul for very long - we had two layovers there of 20 hours each - we were only able to visit the Grand Bazaar on the morning of our second layover, the morning before our return flight to Los Angeles.

We got there just before the shops opened.  The merchants were bustling around, setting up their stores, carrying merchandise, sweeping, socializing, drinking tea.

 The cafe above had just opened, and the carpet merchant below was arranging his display.
The spice sellers were filling their bins, with Turkish candy and dried fruits ready for purchase (or immediate consumption).
The beautiful glassware and Turkish tea sets were sparkling in the shop lights.  So much color, so many ornate patterns, almost everything with an accent of silver or gold.
Speaking of gold.  Shop windows filled with rings, and bracelets, and necklaces.  A lot of the filigree work popular in this part of the world, and many different styles of bangles, which are also seen on the wrists of many of the women.  
In 2014, Travel + Leisure named The Grand Bazaar the number one tourist attraction in the world, with 91,250,000 annual visitors.  It attracts 250,00 to 400,000 visitors DAILY.
The Bazaar has areas along certain roads that have concentrations of the same types of wares - jewelers along one road, gold bracelets on another, furniture on one, carpets on one, leather goods on another.  There's a spice market, too, with bins of colorful and aromatic spices to take home for yourself or purchase as gifts.

We obviously didn't have enough time to see everything the Bazaar had to offer.  We were pressed for time and fearful of getting lost in the maze of hallways.  There's so much to look at, so much more I wanted to photograph, items I wanted to touch, things I wanted to buy.  It's an overwhelming feast for the senses.

This guide, which I didn't find until after we left, has some good information with additional links included.  Istanbul is definitely a place I'd be interested in visiting again and I will definitely set aside a day to explore the Grand Bazaar more completely.  

If you visit this city, make time for the Kapalıçarşı.  You won't be disappointed.

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2017: Hot Monkey Sex
2016: Early Warning
2015: Palm Trees And Ocean
2014: Good Morning, Newport
2013: One Very Happy Sloth
2012: Overnight In Ohio
2011: If It Ain’t Sweet, It Ain’t Southern Made
2010: Portland Bound
2009: Dear Blog Santa 
2008: The Trees Help Guide The Way
2007: Just In Time For The Holidays
2006: Eddie Leans On A Barrio Door Friday
2005: Glowing Reminders

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