Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one the world’s largest covered markets with more than 5,000 shops spread out over its 60 streets. The Bazaar attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors each and every day. Much of the Bazaar has been laid out to support an area for each of the types of goods being sold in the market, such as areas for gold jewelry, leather, and carpets. The market is famous for its carpets, jewelry, spice, antiques, ceramics, and embroideries.
Since 1461, the bazaar has served as key trading center. Its labyrinthine vaults feature two domed buildings, which were built after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror ordered its construction in 1455. In the 16th century, the bazaar was vastly enlarged during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1984, an earthquake led to another major restoration.
In the past, many of the valuables held in the Bazaar were stored in the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, which now holds items such as copperware, inlaid weapons, furniture, watches, clocks, old coins, and jewelry, among other things. Many visitors come to the Bazaar to spend an afternoon leisurely bargaining for purchases, spending time in one of the cafes, and watching the crowds of shoppers stroll by.
The Grand Bazaar has four main gates located at the ends of its two major streets. The complex also houses four fountains, two mosques, two hamams, and numerous restaurants and cafes. The Bazaar is open Monday to Saturday from 9 AM to 7 PM. The market is closed every Sundays and on band holidays.
The Grand Bazaar is still a thriving market with more than 25,000 workers hosting hundreds of thousands of visitors every day. The market recently started a restoration project to help improve the markets heating, lighting, and overall infrastructure to help it compete with some of the more modern shopping malls in Istanbul.
The hans or courtyards inside the market are also undergoing renovations. These new renovations have partly been done to help solve the Bazaar’s key problems, like lack of proper sanitation and proper toilet facilities. The market has also lacked certain controls to allow dealers to skive walls and remove columns in their shops to gain more space. The roof of the Bazaar has been considered a hazard and needs some renovations to make the market safer over the next few years.