September 13, 2021 2 min read

The Istanbul Grand Bazaar!

When visiting Istanbul, one of the places to go shopping is at the Grand Bazaar. It attracts tourists from all over the world as well as traders from the Mediterranean and the East. You will find a wide range of items at different prices at the bazaar. However, to have a successful shopping experience at the bazaar, you need to negotiate like a Turk.

Below is a look at the history of the Grand Bazaar, what you can buy, and a few negotiations tips to improve your shopping experience.

History of the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is the largest and one of the oldest covered markets in the world. It was built in the 15th century during the Ottoman Empire conquest. It houses over 4,000 shops and has 61 interconnecting vaulted passages that interconnect the market and make various shops accessible. 

The modern-day Grand Bazaar integrated the neighboringhans. The domes that were initially covered with lead sheets are now covered with tiles. Shops that sell similar items are located in one location. There is also a mosque and an ablution fountain with the bazaar.

What to Buy at the Istanbul Grand Bazaar

  • Souvenirs

There are a variety of items on sale at the bazaar that you can purchase as souvenirs for yourself or a loved one. E.g., Turkish flags, fridge magnets, key chains, etc. 

  • Edibles

Look out for the spice and sweets shops. Try Sumac and dried Aleppo red pepper for Turkish spices and pomegranate molasses orpekmez - a mulberry or grapes condensed fruit syrup – for condiments.

Turkey offers a multitude of sweet treats. You might want to taste lokum – a Turkish sweet made with nuts and flavored with fruit or rose water. Or,helva confectionaries which are made of sesame seeds.

  • Scarfs

Although the marketplace is flooded with mass-produced, imported scarfs, you can find unique, handmade cashmere, cotton, or silk shawls and scarves. 

Tips for Negotiating at the Istanbul Grand Bazaar

  • Honor the Ottoman’s etiquette when shopping. You will be offered tea as a gesture of hospitality. Partake, whenever possible, but do not feel obligated to buy from them. The shopkeepers and touts are chatty and expect you to engage with them. Do not be surprised if they start a conversation by asking a question about your family.
  • Do not succumb to the sellers’ pressure. Shopping at the Grand Bazaar can be overwhelming, with every shopkeeper trying to make a sale and meet their daily quotas. As such, some are quite pushy in their sales techniques. Take your time to evaluate your options. Only make a purchase when you are satisfied with its quality and price
  • Be ready to negotiate. Although many shops in the Grand Bazaar now provide fixed prices, the price is not fixed in many others, and you can to bargain. Do your research to establish market prices and then decide how much you are willing to spend on an item. Most items have a bargaining margin of 20-30%. 

There you have it, an overview of what it is like to shop at the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. Check out some handcrafted Turkey items here. 

One World Bazaar
One World Bazaar

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