The Grand Bazaar, also called Covered Market or Covered Market (Turkish Kapalıçarşı), is probably the largest and oldest covered market in the world, located in the historical district of Eminönü, Fatih district, Istanbul, Turkey. Opened in 1461, it is well known mainly for jewelery, ceramics, spices and carpets. It has more than 60 covered streets and hundreds or thousands of shops (1200 second ones, more than 4000 second others), is frequented by 250 000 to 400 000 people daily. It is estimated that around 20 000 work there. Most stores are grouped by types of goods, with special areas for leather goods, gold jewelery, etc.

Guide 1 Note: In the large bazaar, personal accept Euro, American dollar or English sterlin. Credit card is also accepted. About American Express, they suddenly will not want to. Travel Check can be changed at a few bureau de change. Real Brazilian is not known and certainly will not want to accept.

The bazaar is situated on the highest part of a large shopping area that occupies the southern slope of the Golden Horn, where in the past the ships supplying Istanbul were docked. The market occupies the space between the Nuruosmaniye and Bayezid II mosques, near Divanyolu, the main avenue of the ancient city since the Roman Constantinople, which was the beginning of the road that crossed the center of the peninsula occupied by the oldest city and the he was in touch with Adrianople, the present Edirne.

The central core of the Grand Bazaar are two bedestens (buildings designed to market and store goods, especially those of greater value, which require more security). They are constructions with walls in gravel masonry, stone pillars and vaults and brick arches, which are connected by beams. The doors are iron and ornate with nails.

Note from guide 2: We have places to indicate. These places are trusted places of product, quality and often its price. But you have to know that in the bazaar, the products – in general – do not have the price tagged. For this reason, even if we indicate that you will have a bargain between you and the seller. This is customary. On the other hand, we never strive to buy anything from just one place. We offer the company service. Business is something you do yourself.


The oldest bedesten, called Eski Bedesten (Old Bedesten), Bedestan-i Atik, Cevahir Bedesteni (Bedesten of the Jewelers), or İç Bedesten (Bedesten Interior) is situated in the center of the covered part. It consists of 44 masonry cells (mahzen) surrounding a rectangular courtyard measuring 45.3 by 29.4 meters. The set is covered with three rows of five vault each. Two rows of eight pillars support the ceiling, which is crowned by small domes outside. Against the outer walls of this structure there are 56 shops all around. Most of the streets of the bazaar are lined with the walls of this bedesten. In the center of each facade there is a gate and each of them leaves a street. The interior is illuminated by windows at the top of the walls, which are linked by raised wooden walkways.

In Eski Bedesteni the main activities were the jewelry trade and the slave auctions. The slave trade was outlawed in 1847. In addition, the bedesten was also used by merchants of the bazaar as safe deposit of money and more valuable goods. Currently the ground floor is occupied by numerous small wooden shops.

The second bedesten, “Novo”, “Pequeno” or “Sandálias” (in Turkish: Yeni Bedesten, Bedestan-i Cedid, Küçük Bedesten or Bezzaziye-i Sugra) is located southeast of the first, to the Nuruosmaniye Mosque. It is a rectangular enclosure walled 38.8 by 32 meters, covered by four rows of five small domes that are supported by twelve pillars. The entrance is made by four doors in the center of each facade.

The Bedestens occupy only a small part of the gigantic market, where in addition to many hundreds of shops and small hans workshops there are cafes, restaurants, small mosques (mescits), fountains, banks, a post office, a police station.

The Grand Bazaar functioned as a (distribution) supply market, by which it passed most of the goods before being distributed to other markets in the city or to the craftsmen’s workshops, many of which were also located in the Grand Bazaar. The name of the streets of the market corresponds to the activities that developed there, whether they were of manufacture or only of commerce.

Currently the bazaar has the same limits as in 1894, when major restoration and restructuring works took place, with 61 streets in a total area of ​​30.7 ha.

Note from guide 3: Sometimes the customer does not want our company in the bazaar. We understand the case and leave it at ease and set the meeting point and time. Only I recommend that you have a local mate. Because when a tourist enters the bazaar, the sellers arrive to offer teas or invite to enter his store. At first, this idea of ​​receiving the bazaar staff invitations appears handsome. But this comes at a time that tires. Even suddenly, this exotic environment has become a haunting chaos. But if you are accompanied, staff of the bazaar, will have a more formal attitude with you telling you that you are accompanied.

The main square of the Grand Bazaar has four entrances, one at each end of the main streets, north-south, Yağlıkçılar (from lamp manufacturers), and east-west, Kalpakçılar (from the leather hatkeepers), which intersect near the southwest corner. Kalpakçılar links the Nuruosmaniye and Bayezid II mosques. In each of the outer entrances there is a large iron gate. These gates were closed outside the hours of service and the place was guarded by personnel hired by the guild that administered the bazaar.


Although it is known that the old Constantinople had a large market with a structure similar to the Ottoman Grand Bazaar, that is to say, a mixed space of commerce and small industry, but it is not known where it was located. Nor is it known what would have existed before the Ottoman revival.

The Eski Bedesten was built between 1455 and 1461 by order of the Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror, shortly after having conquered the city. As was usual with many Ottoman markets, part of the fees charged on trade were intended to generate revenue for a mosque, which in the case of the Grand Bazaar was the newly converted Hagia Sophia. In addition to raising funds for the mosque, Mehmed intended to revive commerce in the conquered city.

The market expanded rapidly around the first bedesten, estimating that by the end of the reign of Mehmed II in 1481, it would occupy about a third of the area it occupies today. In the sixteenth century, during the reign of Suleiman, the Magnificent, the market was greatly increased.

Like the rest of the city, the Grand Bazaar was buffeted by several fires and earthquakes throughout its existence, after which it was rebuilt and expanded somewhat chaotically. Markets around the Bedestens were destroyed by fireworks in 1546, 1589 and 1618. In 1652 there was a fire at the Eski Bedesten and in 1660, a huge fire destroyed virtually the entire city. In 1695 and 1701 fires again occurred in the Eski Bedesten, after which the wooden roofs of the neighboring streets were replaced by masonry. In 1750 there was another fire, which was followed by a looting of the Janissaries, the elite Ottoman imperial troops. In 1766 there was an earthquake and in 1791 and 1826 there were again fires. An earthquake in 1894 damaged the structures and roofs, after which the Minister of Public Works of Sultan Abd-ul-Hamid II, Mahmud Celaleddin Paşa directed a major restructuring of the Grand Bazaar, reducing the area covered by removing arcades, isolating the workshop cores and installing gates along the main streets. In addition, the structure was reinforced with iron and the arcades were decorated with arabesques. In 1954 there was another earthquake that forced more restorations. The interior was completely repainted in 1980.

Although the structure of the bazaar remains the same, its function, the way it is managed, the nature of the trade developed there, and the architecture of the interiors have changed significantly since the second half of the nineteenth century. In the 1960s, changes in Turkey’s industry and economy, as well as in the demography of Istanbul, led to the replacement of most traditional craft workshops with Western-style shops and tourists, which are now the largest business in the area. Traditional shops had open displays, separated by curtains or thin wooden partitions, and were closed at night with vertical blinds. Many shops are now closed with lighted glass doors and windows. The management, which was formerly made by a guild (in Turkish: long),