Monday, June 21, 2021

The Unforgettable Grand Bazaar, Istanbul


Haga Sofia

The short stoppage in Istanbul was deliberately planned. We were returning from Malta and the  New Year had just ushered. It was snowing heavily and the sky was almost dark by the time we landed at our hotel located at Sultanahmet. 

Interior of Haga Sofia

It is the heart of the city with almost all places of interest including the Haga Sofia, the Baths, Blue Mosque and many others. The next morning we had a sumptuous breakfast and set out to explore the city.  This post is not about the world heritage sites like Haga Sofia or the Blue Mosque but about the indulgence in food, and the great Grand Bazaar.

Hafiz Mustafa- Best Baklavas

After spending the morning at the historical sites and trudging through the freshly fallen snow, it was time to head for Hafiz Mustafa! Anyone who has a sweet tooth and loves food cannot miss this iconic landmark on the map of Istanbul since 1864! Located at Sirkeci, it is just a stone's throw from Sultanahmet. River Bosphorous is just a short walk from this place. The huge signboard and the glass windows work like a magnet and the moment one enters the shop the sight of the most tempting flavours and colours of baklava and Turkish delights surround you! It is a world of flavours and everything tastes phenomenal. There is a small restaurant atop this shop but we were too immersed in tasting the various flavoursof Baklava ranging from pistachios, walnuts, almond and every possible fruit. The ritual of tasting leaves you asking for more but it is difficult to control the urge to taste something different every time. It is impossible to leave the shop empty-handed and invariably a packet for friends and relatives and one for self is the least one has to buy here.
 At The  Grand Bazaar

Our next stop was the Grand Bazaar. It took less than 15 minutes to reach there by metro, a distance of just around 2km. The streets were crowded with people and even though it was a cold day, the spirits were nowhere near damp! 

Entrance to the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar is also called Kapalicarsi and was constructed in 1455 by Sultan Fatih Mehmet during the Ottoman period. When it started it was a meeting point for the traders from three continents to sell and trade in their wares and make profits for the Haga Sofia mosque.

A sweet shop at the Grand Bazaar

The bazaar has retained its basic characteristic over the centuries. Today it has almost 4000 shops all under one roof in its precincts, a mosque, a hammam, and several small prayer rooms. There are many eateries and food stalls. The alleyways named after the products each specialize in selling like Takkeciler Caddesi or the 'Skull cap makers street", Aynaiclar  Sokak or Ayna( mirror) sellers street and so on. It is very easy to get lost in the colourful cloister of  64 alleyways and 22 entrances to this bazaar. It is impossible to see the entire market in a day so if one is on a tight time schedule, the visit should be planned to get the most in the time. The shopkeepers are keen to close the sale the moment you show interest in a particular product. The range of products is huge starting with jewellery, art, carpets, antiques, fine arts, silver objects, textiles, woollens and many more. 

Turkish Mezze

While exploring the streets of the Grand Bazaar do not forget to try out the lovely Turkish coffee or Mezze at traditional eateries . There are exetensive vegeterian options which are worth trying when strolling the historical bylanes of this awesome market. Avisit to Istanbul with so my delights to keep a visitor enthralled is incomplete without a visit to the Grand Bazar and crossing the ever Bosphorus which separates the continents of Europe and Asia

PS: Pictures are mine and kind courtesy Google


  1. Visiting your blog makes up for the lack of travel :) I recently tasted baklava...

    1. Thanks Jaish! Am happy that the blog post could fulfil the desire to travel:) I am sure you must have liked Baklava

  2. I have always wanted to visit Istanbul. Thankyou for the wonderful pictures, Rahul.

    1. Many thanks Rachna! Hope your desire to see Istanbul is fulfilled soon