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                                                  The Bazaars   The Cistern and Hippodrome Area

The Bazaars       
The Grand Bazaar, reputed to be the oldest and largest covered bazaar in the world, opened in the 15th century and contains approximately 3,000 shops.

Due to the high rents for space in the Grand Bazaar, there are few bargains to be found, but if you know what you are looking for, there are fine antiques, precious jewelry, and high-quality carpets to be found.

The shops are scattered in all directions but are often grouped by specialty. Wander a while to appreciate the types and varieties of goods available.

  On the way to the Grand Bazaar

The blue sign in this photograph is pointing the way to the Kapali Karsi - the covered Bazaar, also known as the Grand Bazaar, which houses over 3,000 shops.  İThereArePlaces or Its Suppliers

If you are not interested in buying, do not praise the quality of the goods, touch them or otherwise attract the attention of the shop owner. If you do, you will, quite naively, have given the signal that you are interested in buying and the bargaining will begin. Your disinterest will be taken as part of your bargaining strategy and tensions will increase palpably.

If you are interested in bargaining, it is unacceptable to walk away from an offer that has been spoken. Doing so, may result in the police being called.

When you leave the Grand Bazaar, head downhill on Uzun Carsi Cadessi to the Spice Market. Uzun Carsi is a very popular shopping area for residents (see photo below) . If you dislike crowds, avoid this area. If not, join the fun. After all, it's  a downhill walk to the Spice Market.

The Spice Bazaar explodes with delicious aromas and is a curiosity that most in the western world have not experienced, although spices are no longer the only items sold here.

The Spice Market and the Grand Bazaar are closed on Sunday, but many other shopping areas are open seven days a week.

                The Spice Market is alive with aromas

The Spice Bazaar is an amazing exploration that may take a little longer to tour than you think.


              Street shopping in Istanbul can be very crowded.

If you are going to shop in Istanbul, be prepared for huge crowds at every street market you visit, especially on weekends.  

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Gorgeous and unique lamps for sale at the Grand Bazaar

Vendors in the Grand Bazaar sell antiques, rugs, jewelry, copperware and just about any item you can imagine.  Exploring the Grand Bazaar is fun, but  few bargains exist.


Take a box of apple tea home with you to remember the scent of Istanbul

Thinking of shopping for a carpet while in Istanbul? Be prepared for apple tea, as it is part of the routine.


More Istanbul

Istanbul Overview
The Topkapi Palace
Grand Mosques
Hagia Sofia
Yerebatan Cistern
Dolmabahaçe Palace
The Bosporus

Best Places to Visit in Turkey




Istanbul by Night: Turkish Dinner and Show

From Viator Tours

The Cistern    



The Hippodrome, the famous site of chariot races in old Constantinople, did not survive the ravages of time and is now the site of a  civic park whose shape mimics the  ancient Hippodrome.

There are several interesting sights here. Take some time to view the Egyptian obelisk dating back to the 15th century B.C. (from the Karnak Temple in Luxor - Thutmose III) and the Serpent Column from Greece dating from the 4th century A.D.

Adjacent to the Hippodrome is the entrance to the city’s ancient waterworks built by Justinian in the 6th century A.D. The Yerebatan Palace or Basilica Cistern is a cavern supported by over 300 marble columns. When originally constructed, the cistern held 18 million gallons of water. In later times, it served as the water storage area for Topkapi Palace.

You have probably seen the Yerebatan Cistern before in various movies (e.g. the James Bond Thriller "From Russia With Love") or read about it in books, but touring it is an interesting and memorable diversion.

Several of the columns have remarkable footings, such as the one resting on Medusa’s head, shown in the photograph on the right.  Somewhat surprisingly, the cistern is used for the performing arts due to its excellent acoustics.

The Cistern is closed Tuesdays.

The Egyptian obelisk on the site of the Hippodrome

This Egyptian Obelisk (from Karnak Temple in Egypt) is located where the Hippodrome once existed

The Yerebatan Palace is an underground water storage area.

The Yerebatan Palace is an unusually beautiful waterworks and well worth a visit.

For the next page in our Istanbul Guide, click here

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A sculpture of the head of Medusa supporting a column in the Cistern

Medusa's head, used to support one of the columns in the Yerebatan Cistern.


More Istanbul

Istanbul Overview
The Topkapi Palace
Grand Mosques
Hagia Sofia
Yerebatan Cistern
Dolmabahaçe Palace
The Bosporus

Best Places to Visit in Turkey



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