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Markets of Istanbul

By Viator, April 2014

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More than 200 markets take place every week in various neighborhoods around Istanbul, offering fresh produce, textiles, crafts, kitchenware, souvenirs and really almost anything you can imagine. Not only do these local markets offer a glimpse into the vibrancy and color of a particular neighborhood, they also provide a great opportunity to interact with locals as well as offer some really good bargains.

The two most obvious markets to visit are the Grand Bazaar and the nearby Egyptian Spice Market. The Grand Bazaar first opened its doors in 1461, making it one of the oldest (and largest) covered markets in the world, with over 3,000 shops. Every day somewhere between 250,000 and 500,000 visitors make their way through its covered streets, a good majority of them tourists. The Grand Bazaar is famous for its leather goods, gold jewelry, silverware, antiques, copperware, carpets and souvenirs, among innumerable other goods. The Egyptian Spice Market, meanwhile, is a great place to shop for spices, dried fruit and many varieties of Turkish Delight (‘lokum’).

Other, less-touristy markets include the Çarşamba Pazarı (Wednesday market) in Fatih, one of the oldest and biggest markets in the city, featuring around 1,300 vendors, 4,800 stands and about 2,500 peddlers spread around the historic streets of Fatih. It is an esteemed market among locals, where you can find almost anything. The Wednesday Market in Yeşilköy is another highly respected market, known for its relatively greener and upper class setting. The market covers 12,000 square meters and contains over 2,000 stalls, where you can find an array of high quality products. The Kadıköy market is another traditional market that takes place on Tuesdays and Fridays in Kadıköy, on the Asian side of Istanbul.

By far the most atmospheric market, however, takes place every Sunday in the Tarlabaşı neighborhood, a short walk away from Istiklal Caddesi and Taksim Square. Every Sunday this lower class neighborhood, composed mostly of minorities, transforms into a bustling singsong Anatolian village. It’s a great place to shop for fresh produce, or to spend an hour or two strolling around in a world that feels much different than gentrified Istiklal one block away.

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