Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Grand Bazzar. Istanbul, TR

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, TR 

Is this an ancient mall?  Yes and No! It is a shopping spot alright but it ties in with the social structure of the Middle East; with an ancient way of living, with how things were and are done for the benefit of all. 

Just after the Ottomans took over Istanbul from Constantinople, the Sultan had a Cloth Market built, run by guilds. It opened up in 1461 and is today’s Grand Bazaar. It was a covered, indoor place that was open all day, but at night was watched by guards. The Sultan guaranteed the safety of the stock within the building. In all the years this market, even as extended as it is today, has had very, very few thefts. There has been damage from earthquakes and fires, but that is a different calamity. That is over 550 years of selling items.
Map of the Grand Bazaar
The bazaar attracts so many customers, has so many shops, that it is not just a tourist attraction (90 million plus visitors annually) but it seems to be the heartbeat of the city. The whole area in and around the Grand Bazaar is teaming with activity. Sure the old building is rather quaint and outdated in many ways but it is Istanbul, it is Turkey, it is the Turkish lifestyle you see when you visit. There are no bathrooms, so plan ahead. This is not a place with lots of eateries either. There are some, but they serve the most basic foods and there are few areas to sit down. The concept of eating while shopping was foreign to the Ottomans; that is a new Western Idea. No, you do not have the usual stores you see throughout Istanbul. This is not an electronic articles wholesale place. A lot of items you see you might never need, but they are for sale here. Not really toys, not really lamps, not really jewelry like Tiffany but a lot of jewelry. Yes, you can buy carpets. Yes, you can buy clothing. Yes, you can buy spices and leather.  You ask about the style of the clothing? Well, this is Turkey! It is a different taste level, a different way of looking at what you might need. You can buy a lot here, they have thousands of shops and each is packed with merchandise.  Yes, you should bargain, we did. We bought tea; Alma Chai (Apple Tea) and it is very, very tasty and good. But it takes a bit of time to bargain and conclude the sale. It was not prepacked, it had to be weighed and then packed in a baggie. It’s the old way of shopping. You might get to know the stall owner; he then takes care of you. It is more personal than shopping at a mall; it is different than shopping on 5th Ave. in NYC.

The above short video shows the highlights of Istanbul including the Grand Bazaar (about 1/3 of the way in) and the Blue Mosque (almost at the end).

Carol and I are jaded. We do not need a thing. Everything we look at that has tangible value in our eyes is just ‘stuff’. We are the worst shoppers you can imagine. But we bought something (Alma Chai), like I said before. It takes time to find, it takes lots of smiles, lots of talking to salesmen. You can get bargains if you know how to shop. For shopaholics it is a wonderful place to find a lot if items. Carol and I just wandered around, watching others. That was fun for us, too.

It is a must see place no matter what you might think. It is a place that belongs on each bucket list, no matter your age or outlook on life. The Grand Bazaar is a must see.

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