Hello globetrotters! Are you looking forward to traveling to Turkey to experience the exceptional hot air balloon rides in Cappadocia and to enjoy the mouthwatering Turkish cuisine and baths? But let me tell you that your trip to this country will not be complete without a visit to the world’s oldest and largest covered markets, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The 30,700 square meters area occupied with over 4,000 shops across 64 streets is nothing short of a little city. The huge spectacular space with a maze-like interior is easy to lose one’s bearings. So here we are to help you navigate this wondrous city which is not just a shopping area but a cultural experience in itself. 

History Of Grand Bazaar In Istanbul

grand bazaar is the largest and oldest covered markets.
Huge Grand Bazaar of İstanbul City

The construction of the grand bazaar started in the year 1455 under the supervision of Sultan Mehmet II of the Ottoman Empire. What started off as two bedestens (indoor markets with shops) to allow the merchants to sell their goods and generate revenue is today the hub for trade. In addition to the thousands of shops, this place also has a restaurant, a hammam, two mosques with prayer rooms, a police station, a health dispensary, a post office, many major banks, and a center that gives out tourist information. It is literally a small city within a city. 

Because of its size and over 4000 shops, the shops were organized into zones based on the type of product. From food to handicrafts, souvenirs to jewelry, carpets to colorful glass lanterns, anything can be found in Grand Bazaar. Later the streets that housed these products were covered by vaults or dooms to give it the appearance of the Grand Bazaar that we know of today. In the past years, the grand bazaar has withstood numerous natural disasters like fires and earthquakes. The many repairs and maintenance over the years has given rise to the modern Grand Bazaar. Due to the diversity and abundance of high caliber goods, grand bazaar has become one of the most visited attractions in the world and tops the list of places to visit in Istanbul.

Architectural Details Of Grand Bazaar

map of grand bazaar
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The construction of Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a classic example of Turkish designs and architecture. It also has a unique blend of Ottoman and Byzantine styles. The entire bazaar is divided into fifteen separate sections which are furthermore represented by domes. The Cevahir Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten are the primary bazaars and are identified as the citadels of the grand bazaar of Istanbul. While Cevahir is further divided into fifteen separate sections, the Sandal can accommodate fifty other domes enclosing it. Its streets and alleys are covered by domed roofs, arches, vaults and decorated with intricate tile work. The domes are designed to allow natural light to fall onto the covered spaces.

The inside of the grand bazaar resembles a massive maze with narrow passageways and hidden courtyards. Use of fountains and other water features adds to the bazaar’s overall ambiance and beauty. Its striking design elements and intricate aesthetics are nothing less than a Turkish masterpiece. The unique blend of styles is a testament to the rich history and culture of Istanbul. Interiors and exteriors of the grand bazaar creates a truly memorable shopping experience for all.

Things To Know Before You Go

millions of people visit grand bazaar istanbul
Crowded streets inside the Grand Bazaar
  • Distance from Istanbul Airport to Grand Bazaar is about 47 kms and can be covered in 50 minutes.
  • The Grand Bazaar is open on all days except Sundays, bank holidays, public and religious holidays. 
  • The bazaar is open from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm, however the merchants typically begin closing for the day around 6:30 pm.
  • The most economical way to get to the Grand Bazaar is by taking the city’s tram and getting off at the Beyazit-Kapalicarsi stop. 
  • As Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque are close to the grand bazaar, visiting all these places on a single day will save a lot of your time. 
  • It is difficult to see it all even if you spend the entire day as the bazaar is quite huge.  
  • The main entrance is Beyazit gate, however there are 21 other gates to enter the bazaar.
  • Vendors offer a much higher price than the actual price, so be ready to bargain.
  • Debit and credit cards are acceptable here, but cash is the preferred mode of payment. 

Shopping In Grand Bazaar

You can find almost everything in the grand bazaar, they seem to have it all. There’s a vast array of items on sale, so do some research ahead of time and understand what you wish to purchase. Here’s a list of things to keep an eye for while at the grand bazaar in Istanbul. 


grand bazaar of istanbul is famous for its jewellery
Traditional Jewelry at the Grand Bazaar Istanbul, Turkey.

The Grand Bazaar being the largest jewel bazaar in the world, one can get to see Turkish silver and gold jewelry sparkling all over the place. The main walkway is lined with modern designs as well as antique jewelry. To see them all you have to devote at least two days and if you wish to place an order, then you need to stay longer. The jewelry here focuses more on the wedding market and hence the designs are traditional. For those who love silver head straight to Iç Bedesten (Old Bazaar) which specializes in silver jewelry making. Definitely the best place to shop for gold and silver jewelry. 


grand bazaar turkey
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If you are the one who loves to deck your house with some quirky and curious antique treasures, then Istanbul is the place to be as it is the antique center of the world. Great antique paintings, Ottoman metalwork, furniture, weapons, vintage silverware and instruments can be found at Iç Bedesten. This is where most of the antique shops are located and they offer antiques from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Alaturca and Zaiya Aykac Antukaci in the Grand Bazaar are other places where you can look out for fascinating antique goods from all over the world. Make sure that you pick the original as there are many vendors who sell items that appear to be antiques but are not the real ones. 

Turkish Lamps

glass colored Turkish lams in Istanbul
Colorful Turkish lamps in the Grand Bazaar.

It’s the Turkish lamps that bring in all the colors into the huge market and define the beauty of the Grand Bazaar. These beautiful lamps are made entirely by hand using a wide range of colors in small crystals forming mosaics. They come in all shapes and sizes: table lamps, vase-shaped lamps, chandeliers, ceiling lamp shades and hanging lamps are few of the most popular ones. As mentioned earlier, if you’re looking for antique lamps, head to the Iç Bedesten which is in the bazaar’s center. For modern filigree Turkey lamps and lanterns head to the Cebeci Han. These lamps are the best things to bring back home from your Turkey travel. Don’t miss out on the metal candle lanterns which are great to give away as gifts.


the grand bazaar istanbul is famous for its ceramic bowls
The traditional Ottoman designs on ceramic bowls.

Celebrate the colors of life with iznik bowls, Turkish ceramic plates, mugs, vases, hanging ornaments, and even ashtrays which reminds us of the architectural mosaics of Istanbul. Turkey’s most famous ceramic work hails from İznik and Kütahya. You’ll find plenty of hand-painted ceramic ware and mass-produced ceramics sold on the main streets of the Grand Bazaar. The traditional Ottoman designs take inspiration from tulip motifs and other stunning floral patterns. It makes for a perfect gift for a loved one back home. 


Traditional hookas
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Nargile water pipes are made for smoking fruit flavored tobacco. They are also great to take back home as souvenirs. Smoking is a huge part of café culture in Turkey, hence nargile bowls and glasses can be seen everywhere. If you are a non-smoker, purchase the bowls separately to be used as distinctive vases. You can also find nargile bowls either made of glass or ceramic, which are highly decorative items.

Spices And Sweets

Aromatic spices are the top exports of Turkey.
Spice baskets at Grand Bazaar in Istanbul

Just as you step into the grand bazaar, you will be lit up by the waft of the aromatics of the different spices. Saffron being the most famous of them all, one can choose from various grades of saffron at the bazaar. The dried crimson-colored fruit of the sumac plant, pul biber (dried Aleppo red pepper), meatball spices, curry powders, and lavender are other popular spices to look out for. For people with a sweet tooth, grand bazaar offers plenty of opportunities. Look out for the lokum or Turkish delight which are stuffed with nuts and flavored with rosewater.  

Without a doubt, the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is a shopper’s paradise. Those who are not much into shopping should also visit to experience the Turkish culture and to get the feel of the surroundings. The distinctive array of items and the ancient shopping experience will make your visit completely worth it.  

Some FAQ’s For You

How much time should I spend in Grand Bazaar in Istanbul?

If shopping is on your mind, then it would take 3-5 hours to see the 64 streets of the bazaar. One can walk around enjoying the display of different goods, the colors, the smells and historical sections of the bazaar. 

Do you need a guide for the Grand Bazaar Istanbul?

The shops of grand bazaar can be explored without a guide. Just walk in with confidence and get deeper to experience the different streets within the bazaar.

What is the best time to visit Grand Bazaar Istanbul?

Grand Bazaar Turkey is open on all days (except on Sundays) between 9:00am to 7:00pm. Best time to visit is during opening hours or during late afternoons as generally the mid-day sees very high-traffic. On an average grand bazaar has 3 to 4 lakh visitors coming in daily from all parts of the world. 

Which is the best entrance for Grand Bazaar?

Beyazit gate is the best entrance as it is just across Beyazit tram station. Commuting to and from the station is easy as the bazaar is at a walkable distance from the station.


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