Crossroads Tour: The Grand Bazaar…

As of May 2021, I am migrating most of my travel journals to Daveno Travels where I am reissuing them as Director’s Cuts, with full text and previously unpublished photos. This is an excerpt from my first trip to Istanbul in 2011.

The Grand Bazaar was completed during the reign of Sultan Mehmet the Conquerer in 1461 and was enlarged during the reign of Suleyman the Magnificent during the 16th century. The ornate decorations were added during the restoration following an earthquake in 1894. Touted as the first covered market in the world, it is as large and noisy as you would expect a 5,000 store shopping mall to be.

It was also far more colorful and brightly lit than I was ready for, and I reached nearly complete sensory overload in the first ten minutes. Rick Steves says to spend about 2 hours here, which is about as much time as a human has before their retinas start to melt… 

In addition to the shops that line some 60 walkways, this complex also houses two mosques, four fountains and a couple of bathhouses as well as several restaurants. Upon entering one of 27 doors, the first thing I see is a window filled with tiaras. Later on, a stall of embroidered boots, and beyond that, several shops filled with beautiful glass lanterns.  A coat from the Topkapi, replicated in blue and white porcelain tile also catches my eye. 

I turn the corner and into the Old Market. Here the ceiling domes are exposed brick, and most of the shops are faced with glass cases. An antique store has a case containing an astrolabe and some swords. Contained in another glass case are three pair of chased silver chopines that were worn in Turkish baths.

I watch the bustle of the tea (cay) merchants, who weren’t serving customers, but instead ran from shop to shop, delivering tea in small “tulip glasses” on saucers, which they carry on silver trays suspended on silver chain. Providing tea to patrons must be a cost of doing business here and I make a mental note to only accept tea from merchants I intend to do business with…

Thanks for your note! As an anti-spam measure, comments are moderated and will appear once they are approved :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: