With 60 streets and 5,000 shops, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is not only the largest but also oldest covered market in the world.
[Part I] The construction of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar started during winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople. It was part of a broader initiative to stimulate economic prosperity. Sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles. It was named Cevâhir Bedestan (‘Bedesten of Gems’) and was also known as Bezzâzistan Cedîd (‘New Bedesten’) in Ottoman Turkish.
Analysis of brickwork shows that most of the structure originates from the second half of the 15th century, although a Byzantine relief representing a Comnenian eagle is still enclosed on top of the market’s east gate. What has not changed over the centuries, is the gripping atmosphere and the haggling and bargaining skills which you will need, if you want to walk out a happy buyer. Be prepared!