A Market Within A Market

An hour’s stroll through the labyrinthine lanes of Tahtakale, which sprawls like a giant marketplace from the shore at Eminönü in a weave of markets, khans, mosques and baths.

Stretching along the Golden Horn behind the Egyptian Bazaar, this street of the makers of straw mats is like a giant open-air market with century-old coffeehouses on almost every corner and no shortage of famous charcuteries. And some of its shop windows and itinerant stands, chock full everything from evil eye beads to cake pans and cookie cutters, are jam-packed with toys.
The continuation of Hasırcılar in the direction of Unkapanı is known as Kutucular, or the street of the boxmakers. And what all can’t be found here where every imaginable kind of wicker and wooden furniture is sold. Lecterns, footstools, cradles, picture frames... You can also discover historic hans in use since the Ottoman period on this street known for its old-fashioned sweet shops.

Built by Suleyman the Magnificent’s grand vezir Rüstem Pasha, it is adorned with the Iznik tiles that reached their zenith of technique and design in the 16th century. The opulent tile panels on the building’s front facade give a hint of the art of decoration you will encounter within. Covering the mosque’s interior walls completely, the tiles offer a magical view of nature with their vegetal motifs in red and blue tones.

This bath, located diagonally to the right of the Rüstem Pasha Mosque market gate, is one of Istanbul’s oldest. Fabrics, cosmetics, candy, carpets and kilims are sold in the shops inside this historic structure, known today as the Hamam Çarşı. The 17-meter-diameter dome of this bath, which covers a total of 5,350 square meters, is of a size not encountered even in many of Istanbul’s most historic mosques.

A large commercial building on the Çakmakçılar Street, it is one of the largest hans in Istanbul. In the center of the han, which is entered through an arched gate, stands a 17th century mosque. A place where coats, hats, suits and children’s clothing are sold, it was known in the past for its merchants from Iran. Extraordinary feature of this han is that the first Ottoman printing press was set up here in 1567 by the empire’s minority communities.

A place of bath clog and shoe factories in the Ottoman period, Mercan today is a large and crowded shopping complex full of hans, workshops and stores both wholesale and retail - a center for leather goods, electronics products, hunting gear and housewares. You will encounter a mind-boggling range of products from suitcases and backgammon sets to amber worry beads and decorative finials as you wend your way up its gentle, shop-lined slope.