If you are interested in shopping there are many things for you in Turkey. There are shopping malls in cities across Turkey although the best shopping experience to be had for the tourist is in the traditional shopping bazaars of Turkey. The wonderful architecture and sights and smells of the East make shopping in Turkey a great day out.
Turkey is one of the world’s great shopping destinations. Located at a historic trade crossroads linking to the Silk Road, the country has been a shopper’s paradise for centuries, offering everything from hand-woven Turkish carpets and kilims to jewellery, antiques and Iznik ceramics, carved meerschaum and a growing number of famous designer brands. You will also delight at the diversity of culinary shopping, including fresh fruit and vegetable markets in every city, sweet treats, nuts and spices, Turkish tea, coffee.
For a more modern shopping experience, Istanbul doesn’t disappoint, with famous designer brands, edgy boutiques and upmarket malls moving in at a remarkable pace. New developments include the ultra-sleek Istinye Park, City’s Mall in Nisantasi, the futuristic Kanyon (shaped like a canyon) in the upmarket Levent district which houses Turkey’s first Harvey Nichols. Istanbul is also host to Europe’s second biggest mall, the Cevahir after London’s Westfield. Thanks to Turkey’s strong textile sector, when it comes to clothing there is something for every budget, style and taste. Those looking for world-wide brands and fashion labels will find them in Istanbul’s upmarket malls, while also discovering some of Turkey’s home-grown talent at Turkish designer stores and boutiques.
Istanbul is also packed with interesting quarters that are great for everything from designer labels to unusual, quirky pieces. Visit Istiklal Street and Galata near Taksim, a bustling promenade of boutiques, clothes, record and book shops, as well as fantastic cafes, restaurants and hidden gems in the many passage ways that lead off the main street. Northeast of Taksim is the trendy neighbourhood of Nisantasi, where you will find an array of elegant boutiques and upmarket cafes.
The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops, and attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewellery, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by type of goods, with special areas for leather, gold jewellery and the like.
The Bazaar has been important trading centre since 1461 and its labyrinthine vaults feature two bedestens (domed buildings), the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.
The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the centre is the high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons, icons, moth er-of-pearl mirrors, water pipes, watches and clocks, candlesticks, old coins, and silver and gold jewellery set with coral and turquoise. A leisurely afternoon spent exploring the bazaar, sitting in one of the cafés and watching the crowds pass by, and bargaining for purchases is one of the best ways to recapture the romantic atmosphere of old Istanbul.
The Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi in Turkish ) is also known as Spice Market. It’s located just behind the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu Neighborhood, at the entrance of the Golden Horn. The Bazaar was originally made of wood in mid-17th century by the architect Kazim Aga, and got its final restorations during mid-forties. The name comes from the fact that Egyptians used to sell their spices here and that it once received income from taxes levied on Egypt. Instead the English name comes from the days when the Bazaar was specialized on selling spices and herbs, medicinal plants and drugs. Lately, there are also shops selling stuff other than spices but you can still see and smell many interesting spices, dried fruits and nuts, teas , oils and essences, sweets, honeycombs, and aphrodisiacs.
The Spice Market has 86 shops inside. Outside there is a plant market on one side and a food market on the other. There are 6 gates of the L-shaped Bazaar. The ceiling is higher respect to Grand Bazaar , and this is also covered with domes.
The Egyptian Bazaar is open daily between 09:00-19.00 except during public or religious holidays . Since 2009 it remains open on Sundays too, between 10:00-18:00.
The Arasta Bazaar, also known as Sipahi Carsisi inTurkish , is located behind the Blue Mosque in the old city center, just next to the entrance of the Mosaics Museums. Despite The Grand Bazaar , Arasta Bazaar is a small and simple traditional market in Istanbul. There are about 40 shops lined on both sides of a street, selling mostly traditional items. Originally this place was built in the 17th century together with the mosque and used to be stables during the Ottoman period. Several fires in the past destroyed the stables and it was left in ruins for a long time. It was converted into shops in 1980s, permitting the money from rents to be used in the restoration works of the Blue Mosque.