Grand Bazaar, Istanbul

The Grand Bazaar Is The Oldest Mall In The World. Brings Lots Of Money!


My friend Kathleen and I spent our first day roaming through Istanbul’s The Grand Bazaar, which is considered the first shopping mall in the world. Kapalıçarşı, meaning covered market, is a maze of 60 streets were thousands of stalls and shops house everything from ceramics, rugs, spices, and furniture to restaurants, cafes, and Hammams.

Having a map of the Grand Bazaar is recommended as over 300,000 people visit daily and trying to navigate through the masses can be tricky. It might not be the best place to say to your friend, “Let’s part ways for a bit and meet back at this spot. Remember, it is the one with the colorful bowls and rugs.” It could end up in disaster! Stick together because sampling Turkish delight, trying on traditional Turkish slippers and bargaining for your wears is way more fun as a team than solo.



I am the worst at bargaining. It’s a combination of laziness and feeling guilty for an item that is already quite reasonable. I attempted to bargain for a gray polka dot fedora hat and the price ended up increasing. How can that happen? I gave in and bought it for the original price of $8. A good deal since it lasted me through two months in Europe, a trip to Houston and six weeks in South America. I ended up giving it to a girl at a hostel in Peru. I wonder if it is still traversing the globe?



My favorite part of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is the outdoor cafes. The aromas of freshly ground spices and the sizzling meats over hot coals made us go crazy. I veered right away into a cafe where a lady was frying batches of sardines. She piled up my plate and I squeezed lemon all over the fried goodness. I have never had sardines this good. I need to go back! After eating no less than 20 sardines, we were both thirsty, so we walked over to a stall that served freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. What a refreshing drink in the extreme heat.

I can understand why The Grand Bazaar is the number one tourist destination in the world. Everywhere you walk in this 500-year-old complex is an assault on the senses – the heated exchange of tourists and merchants trying to bargain, or the rug salesman telling you that it’s super easy to ship a bedroom size rug to Canada or the tasting of fresh figs. It all just blew my mind. Everyone was pleasant, joyful and helpful which set a positive tone for the rest of our trip down the West Coast of Turkey.


  • What: The Grand Bazaar
  • Where: Beyazıt Mh., 34126 Fatih/İstanbul
  • Hours: Monday – Saturday 9.00 – 7.00pm. Closed Sundays and bank holidays.
  • Directions:  Take a tram to Beyazit, Üniversite or Sirkeci. The Grand Bazaar is about a 20-25 minute walk from the Aya Sofya/Blue Mosque area.