Thursday's Child: The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

Thursday, June 27, 2013
The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world.  Nearly 600 years old, it welcomes between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors every day.  That figure seems unbelievable, but given that there are sixty "streets" in the market, it's not hard to see how an enormous number of people can shop here at once without it becoming overwhelming.

There's virtually no end to what you can buy at the Bazaar.  A small sampling of the shops we saw included ceramics, fabrics, lamps, leather goods, jewelry, silver, carpets and food products. Depending on whether you were hungry or thirsty, it would be a great place to try your first Turkish Delight, or your first Turkish coffee.


We expected it to be like the souks of Marrakech, which we'd visited a few years earlier, but it was quite different.  The Grand Bazaar was quite well-organized, and any time we temporarily lost our bearing, it didn't take long to find it again.  (If we'd got lost in the Marrakech souks, we'd probably still be trying to find our way out.)  The Grand Bazaar is actually pretty similar to your local mall, if your local mall had 5000 stores and the dealers stood in the hallways, trying to entice you into their stores.

In fact, one of the things we enjoyed most was the way the shopkeepers interacted with the shoppers, and their sense of humour.  One of them, seeing the logo on my jacket, called out to me with great excitement, "Hey!  Helly Hansen!"  They weren't overly persistent, though; if we declined to enter their shop, they just smiled and tried to engage the next group of shoppers.
Istanbul is a city that has gone by many names over the years, including Byzantium and Constantinople.  But I think the best descriptor is its nickname, "The City Where East Meets West". It was this combination of the exotic and the familiar that made us fall in love with the city and its people.


16 comments:

Kayte said...

Have always wanted to go here...one of my minors in college was Byzantine history and have a love of all things related to this. Nice photos!

Bonnie said...

Beth, Oh what treasures did you find irresistible? Loved seeing the market.

Valerie said...

Oh, all those beautiful lanterns...I would happily go broke and buy every lovely item I could get my hands on - not to mention Turkish Delight! (Think of the food photo potential!) :D

Stunning pics, Helly Hansen!

I Wilkerson said...

You certainly travel to the most interesting places!

Liz Berg said...

Oh, how I hope to get to Istanbul some day! Love your travel posts, Beth.

PS...I had to giggle at your decoy desserts. Great idea :)

Beth said...

I know it sounds funny, Liz, but they work!

Gloria Baker said...

Always heard Istanbul is sooo beautiful Beth!

Chris Scheuer said...

Lovely photos and it looks like a wonderful time. I spent a bit of time in Turkey but only passed through Istanbul, what a shame!

bakewithjill.com said...

Lovely photos! I think the only thing I bought there was a painted bowl for my in-laws, and I admire it every time I'm at their house. Not sure why I didn't buy one for myself!

nancy at good food matters said...

It looks fantastic...and potentially overwhelming. I especially love all the decorative plates. You do take some amazing trips!

Guru Uru said...

I wonder how I would stop buying so many cultural items :D
Too good!

Cheers
CCU

Patty Price said...

I remember my visit to the grand bazaar- I brought home a couple of hand painted tiles, which I treasure! My visit to Istanbul is like a blur-so good seeing your photos and recapturing a few of the memories -thanks! Have a wonderful weekend ;-)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, these pictures are just wonderful - love all your travel posts and I would love to visit Istanbul one of these days as well.
Have a fabulous weekend!

Angie Schneider said...

What wonderful photos from Istanbul! I would love to have one of those exotic lanterns.
Have a great Sunday, Beth.
Angie

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grace said...

turkish coffee, yum! i can see myself accumulating lots of souvenirs at a place like this! :)

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