Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Istanbul 2014 - Grand Bazaar

Date of visit: 7th April 2014

7th April was our last day in Istanbul as our group will leave via midnight train to Bucharest. We tried to complete our tour in Istanbul by catching up those places duly planned in our itinerary. Grand Bazaar was supposed to be on the first day but due to incident of our missing luggage, we had to rescheduled it on the last day. A cruise along Marmara/Bosporus sea is a must, so arrangement has been made with the hotel for the cruise at 2.30pm, i.e. shortly after we finished with Grand Bazaar and check out. The next place was to Galata Tower and Taksim Square. I would like to enlighten myself with the history of Grand Bazaar, my most favorite subject.
Kapalicarsi gate to Grand Bazaar

The head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association claimed that the complex was in 2011 (on its 550th birthday), the most visited monument in the world. A restoration project starting in 2012 should renew its infrastructure, heating and lighting systems. Moreover, the caravanserai inside the Market will be renovated and later additions will be demolished. This project should finally solve the big problems of the market: for example, in the whole Bazaar there is no proper toilet facility. Moreover, the lacks of controls in the past years allowed many dealers to remove columns and skive walls in their shops to gain space: This, together with the substitution of lead (stolen in the last years) with concrete on the market's roof, has created a great hazard when the earthquake expected in Istanbul in the next years will occur.

The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9 am until 7pm. On my second visit, I did not shop as much as I did when I first arrived here in 2004. I was wishing that hubby was with me during last trip as he would probably able to decide to bring back some of the beautiful Turkish lamps in the Bazaar that I yearn to have for the new house. 

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. The Grand Bazaar is located inside the walled city of Istanbul, in Fatih district. It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams at Beyazıt-Kapalıcarsi stop.

I brought back 1 of these

The grandeur lamps that I wish to be in my new house, sigh!

The core construction started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople at the order of Fatih Sultan Mehmet. Sultan Mehmet II had an edifice erected devoted to the trading of textiles, named ‘Bedesten of Gems’. The word bedesten is adapted from the Persian word bezestan, derived from bez (cloth) carries a meaning, "bazaar of the cloth sellers". It is located on the slope of the third hill of Istanbul, between the ancient Forum of Constantine and of Theodosius. It was also near the Fatih Sultan Mehmed old palace (Eski Sarayi now Istanbul University), which was also in construction in those same years.

The construction of the Bedesten ended in the winter of 1460/61, and the building was endowed to the waqf of the Hagia Sofia Mosque. Analysis of the brickwork shows that most of the structure originates from the 2nd half of the 15th century, although a Byzantine relief representing a Comnenian eagle, still enclosed on the top of the East Gate of the Bedesten has been used by several scholars as proof that the edifice was a Byzantine structure.

Some years later, in 1545 under Sultan Suleyman I had another covered market built, the ‘Sandal Bedesten’ (the name comes from a kind of thread woven in Bursa, which had the colour of sandalwood), which lay north of the first. After the erection of the Sandal Bedesten the trade in textiles moved there, while the Bedesten of Gems was reserved for the trade in luxury goods. At the beginning the two buildings were isolated. According to the 16th-century French traveller Pierre Gilles, between them and the Mosque of Beyazid stood the ruins of churches and a large cistern. However, soon many sellers opened their shops between and around them, so that a whole quarter was born, devoted exclusively to commerce.

Plates was what I collected from all places that I travelled. It will be hang on my travel wall at home!

You must know how to bargain well. Bought a silk scarf from that guy :)

At the beginning of the 17th century the Grand Bazaar had already achieved its final shape. The enormous extent of the Ottoman Empire in 3 continents, and the total control of road communications between Asia and Europe, rendered the Bazaar and the surrounding caravanserais the hub of the Mediterranean trade. According to several European travellers, at that time, and until the first half of the 19th century, the market was unrivalled in Europe with regards to the abundance, variety and quality of the goods on sale. According to the European travellers at that time, the Grand Bazaar had a square plan, with two perpendicular main roads crossing in the middle and a third road running along the outer perimeter. In the Bazaar there were 67 roads (each bearing the name of the sellers of a particular good), several squares used for the daily prayers, 5 mosques, 7 fountains, 18 gates which were opened each day in the morning and closed in the evening (from these comes the modern name of the Market, "Closed Market" .

Around 1638 the Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi has provided the most important historical description of the Bazaar and of its customs. The number of shops amounted to 3,000, plus 300 located in the surrounding the large caravanserais with 2 or 3 storeys round a porticoed inner courtyard, where goods could be stored and merchants could be lodged. In that period 1/10 of the shops of the city were concentrated in the market and around it. For all that, at that time the market was not yet covered.

How I appreciated the fact that I brought along my 2 sisters during my hectic journey. Love you 2 always!

Series of calamities, fires and earthquakes had hit and affected the Grand Bazaar, occurred in 1515 till the great fire in 1701. The fire of 1701 was particularly fierce, forcing in 1730-31 Grand Vizier Nevsehirli Damad Ibrahim Pasha to rebuild several parts of the complex. In this period, several parts of the market which lied between the 2 Bedesten were covered with vaults.

Sources mainly from Wikipedia.
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