With up to 400,000 visitors a day and a history that dates back to the 15th Century a must see site on your holiday in Turkey is the Kapalicarsi also known as the Grand Bazaar. Back in the 15th Century the Bazaar started off as two warehouses, but after several fires, an earthquake and numerous extensions and rebuilds, the Grand Bazaar is now Turkey's largest covered market and is thought to have over 3,000 shops on 61 streets which are named after the products which can be found on them.
There are 4 main entrances to the Bazaar. When entering one of the entrances of the Grand Bazaar you will instantly be hit by an array of bright colours, noises and exotic smells from the range of exciting goods on offer. The initial experience may feel overwhelming but as you wind through the streets of the Bazaar you will start to realise that amongst the chaos there is some structure to the layout.
Fundamentally the Bazaar is based around two bedestens which are domed structures used for storage. Near the bedestens you will find the more expensive products, as traditionally these were stored in the bedestens at night to keep the goods safe. Therefore you will find all the expensive products near each other. These products are also grouped together into types of products. For example jewellery and antiques are both expensive goods so will be near to each other but they will not be mixed together on the same street. As mentioned earlier the streets are named after the products which are found on them so you may enjoy learning to speak a bit of basic Turkish before your holiday to Turkey so you are able to find the products you are looking for with a little more ease.
Even though the navigation around the Bazaar may seem a little simpler now, there is still just so much to see, so it is still a good idea to spend at least half a day enjoying the bazaar while on your holiday to Turkey. The Grand Bazaar offers everything from beautiful handmade carpets and antiques, to spices and dried fruit. There is an abundance of treasures to discover so is the perfect place on your holiday in Turkey to pick up some unique souvenirs. A popular souvenir to buy is gold. Turks are renowned for being fond of gold, as in the past their currency has had a penchant to devalue, so they tend to invest in gold. It is also traditional in some parts of Turkey for the groom's family to present the bride's family with gold bracelets before they get married.
If however you have a passion for ceramics you will adore the Bazaar. Turkey has been producing beautiful coloured ceramics since the 16th century. The master potters from Kutahya are still making pottery and prices range from a few pounds to a few hundred pounds.
There are so many other interesting products to buy in the bazaar so you may want to brush up on your bartering tips before your holiday to Turkey, or you could just take pleasure in the architecture and the local people's Turkish hospitality and enjoy some window shopping. If you do want to shop but want to get out of the hustle and bustle, you can explore the bazaar and find plenty of quieter areas tucked away where the locals shop. The whole experience may sound very chaotic but if you are staying near Istanbul, your holiday in Turkey is not complete without getting lost in The Grand Bazaar.
Shereena Lingiah is the Marketing Manager for Anatolian Sky, a specialist travel company that provide the very best holidays in Turkey at extremely competitive prices. They provide tailor-made holidays to Turkey and Northern Cyprus, including the entire Anatolian region.