So I originally planned to stay away from places that are super crowded and touristy, but I haven’t done the most stellar job so far, and this one was just too good to resist… so from now on, I’m just doing whatever the heck I want. Some places will be touristy and some will be obscure. Moving on…
The Grand Bazaar in
What to do? The market is a labyrinth of streets and shops with many different entrances – very easy to get lost, but I would be happy to get lost exploring all the cool things the market has to offer. It’s crowded, busy and warm – the market is several degrees hotter than the air outside because of all the lights. There are merchants and shoppers everywhere, and colourful, exotic wares spill from thousands of stalls. The bazaar is divided into “Bedestens” – complexes of related shops. The merchants are known for their jewelry, hand-painted pottery, carpets, fabrics, spices and antique shops.
The atmosphere can be quite overwhelming, and make sure you know how to say no, unless you’re prepared to blow your life’s savings shopping here. The merchants are outgoing and can sometimes be aggressive. They will bombard you with greetings and offers, and try to convince you/guilt you into to buying their items. Apparently a favourite opener is “Hello, Americans! Where are you from? I have a cousin there!”
Merchants often try to take advantage of people’s politeness, so you need to be firm and sometimes assertive. It’s the only way to get through the market without spending all your money and being constantly stuck in conversations. Just don’t feel like you have to engage everyone who greets you, or buy something everywhere you look. If you approach the merchants with a sense of humour, it can be quite fun –the merchants love to chat, and I’m guessing you’d have some pretty interesting conversations. You could even try your hand at bargaining.
It would be well worth your time to check out the district of the Silversmiths. Many of them will be happy to let you inside their workshops if you ask, and you can watch them craft beautiful objects out of silver. Frequently, merchants are forced to move their workshops out of the bazaar because of high rents, which is unfortunate because the bazaar has always held both workshops and shops, and many of the craftsmen believe the soul of the bazaar will be lost if they are forced to move their workshops. Gold is another specialty of the market. Since Turkish currency is fairly unstable, many Turks invest their money in gold, a more secure form of wealth. You will see women in the market whose arms are lined with plain gold bracelets – their life savings.
There are cheap touristy areas in the market, and other areas that are very overpriced, but if you go to the outer edge of the market and the streets around the bazaar, where the local Turks shop, you will find good merchandise for good bargains.
While you’re in
, there are plenty of other historic sites and
beautiful, ancient mosques to visit. I
could never get tired of exploring this city. Istanbul
So that’s the Turkish Grand Bazaar. This is only one aspect of the culturally rich wonder that is
, and I could probably spend forever exploring
the Bazaar alone. Istanbul