The Grand Bazaar, located in Beyazıt, is the oldest shopping center in the world, and has retained all its vitality and beauty over the centuries. Building of the Grand Bazaar was ordered by Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror in 1461, though much of its complex structure was built during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Due to this great development in commerce, Istanbul’s economy acquired a new identity. The bazaar grew over time and is now made up of 60 streets, 3,600 stores and 14 "han" (a commercial building) and covers a whopping 110,868 square meters. The Grand Bazaar is undoubtedly a testament to the Ottoman's expertise when it came to trade, and visitors today can browse its myriad goods and walk below its stained-glass windows. The shops are brimming with fabrics, valuable stones, antiques, carpets and much more. It really is like something out of a fairytale and has to be seen to be believed. The Grand Bazaar is one of the most visited places in the city, and a great place to pick out gifts for your loved ones. It should definitely be on top of your list of things to do in Istanbul.
The Spice Bazaar is one of the oldest historical spots in Eninönü. The moment you step foot in the Spice Bazaar, you're hit by a symphony of aromas. The building itself was constructed using proceeds from taxes levied on Egypt (Mısır is the Turkish word for Egypt), and it is part of the New Mosque complex. Istanbul finds itself on what was known as the Spice Road, and the Spice Bazaar played a significant role in turning the city into a commercial powerhouse. Though it was previously known as New Bazaar and Valide Bazaar, it was in the 18th century that the bazaar became known as Mısır Çarşısı, or "Egyptian Bazaar", because the spices being imported from the East generally passed through Egypt on their route to Istanbul. There are six entrances to the bazaar, and all of its streets are connected to the central Dua Square (Dua Meydanı), where you'll also find the impressive Ezan kiosk. Like many of Istanbul's other iconic buildings, the Spice Bazaar has suffered blazes over the centuries. Its present appearance is largely the result of restoration work carried out by the Istanbul City Municipality in 1940. Treat yourself to a vivid experience of vibrant colors and beautiful aromas of natural medicines, seeds, herbs, and roots. In the bazaar, you can also find a variety of dried fruits, local goods and buy souvenirs for you loved ones.
Arasta Bazaar (Arasta Çarşısı) is one of the tidiest bazaars or "çarşı" in Istanbul, and it was where goods used by cavalrymen were sold during the Ottoman era. It's for this reason that it's also known as Sipahiler Çarşısı (“sipahiler” being the Turkish for cavalrymen).The bazaar, which was thought to have been part of the Byzantine Palace, suffered a blaze in 1912, causing significant damage, and it had to undergo a long period of restoration. During excavations carried out in the 1930s, mosaics belonging to the Byzantine Palace confirmed the notion that it was part of the palace complex. The bazaar underwent further restoration work in 1980, carried out by the General Directorate for Foundations, and it was that work which gave it the appearance you’ll see today. Shop in an atmosphere of authentic history at the bazaar's 70 stores, for traditional rugs, carpets, İznik tiles and a range of other goods from Turkish and Ottoman culture.
A remnant of the Ottoman Empire from the 15th century, the Sahaflar Bazaar is a gathering place for all book-lovers. The second-hand book market of Sahaflar Bazaar is the oldest book market in the city and sits just behind the Beyazid Mosque. Second-hand books used to be sold in the Grand Bazaar, but over time the market slowly moved over to its current location. The earthquake of 1894 and subsequent fire accelerated this move and the entire market was relocated in front of the Sedefçiler Kapısı gate, where it still operates today. The profession of second-hand bookselling, or "sahaf" in Turkish, began with Orhan Bey in Bursa in front of major mosques. The profession grew and came to be the traditional craft of a man named Basralı Abdullah Yetimi Efendi. Booksellers were an important part of Istanbul's intellectual scene during the period of the Ottoman Empire, and later became a critical part of the educational system. Sahaflar Bazaar is more than just a place to buy books, it's a social setting to discuss the ideas within. If you want to breathe in the atmosphere of literature and make some new discoveries, be sure to spend a little time in Sahaflar Bazaar.