A few years ago, I spent two days exploring the Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi) in Istanbul, Turkey. The sumptuous bazaar is one of the largest covered markets in the world, with 60 streets and 5,000 shops. It has been a vigorous centre of trade since 1461. It is composed of two domed buildings (bedestens). The first was built between 1455 and 1461 by the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. It was enlarged in the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. I entered by this gate,
I was enchanted by the soaring vaults and saturated colours,
I wanted to buy my first Persian rug in the Grand Bazaar. Oh my god. I think I visited every rug shop and drank infinite glasses of tea offered by eager Turkish men. I was assaulted by rich colours, textures and designs.
Wow -- that is so much grander and more lush than I envisioned it! It's also amazingly tidy, even as packed as it is. The scale and planning really bring home what a crossroads Istanbul was for centuries. I assume back in 1455 people were already grousing that they needed a nice big building for the bazaar. How were you ever able to settle on just one rug (or two or three or ...)? Were the two days exploring because that's all the time you had? It looks like it could easily take twice that time. This is so incredible -- thank you!
Incidentally, here a 'bazar' is a thrift shop or yard sale. Such a disappointing use for that word!
Thank you jazz,spectacular photos! I visited Istanbul in 2000,it was an incredible journey. When I first walked into the bazaar I was so overwhelmed ! The Spice Bazaar was equally spectacular and I bought so many different spices and also found some really cool seeds to plant in my garden,all these neat vegetables. Thanks for the great memory.
Think "bazar" or "bazaar" has that worsened meaning pretty much throughout the western world. Here, a church bazar is a jumble or charity sale, and few have anything as pretty as those rugs. (I have found the ones that do, in posh neighbourhoods). I'm also pleased to see that the clients don't all seem to be tourists, but also local people looking for something nice.
Those are splendid pictures. A friend visited Istanbul a year or so ago, and I know someone else who studied there. I had not realised before the latter friend that Turkey had the largest Roma (Gypsy) in what is defined as Europe.
Certainly makes one want to visit. Is it easy to bring back the carpets?
A caravanserai as shot from the second floor of the bazaar. I was fascinated by caravanserai throughout Turkey. It is a roadside inn where travellers and their animals could rest. There would be an inner courtyard and the inner walls had stalls or niches for both the traveller and his precious animal. They are very beautiful.
I had coffee at this very old cafe within the bazaar. The whirling devishes on the celing are hand painted.
I had two perfect days and was almost saturated with excitement and beauty and the exotic. This is the street outside that I happily lugged my 6'x9' rug along... Not that heavy, the men wrapped it very compactly...every now and then, I would rest and have a cup of my favorite, Turkish coffee.
That beautiful basin in #15 is one of the many prominent features throughout the bazaar (and elsewhere) for handwashing. I'm telling you ,the hardware in that city was incredible! Even the funkiest WC's had tiles and hardware that sent me! Everything is so OLD and amazingly intact.
Thank you. The month that I spent in Turkey was fascinating. It was the closest to a middle eastern (eek, Kerouac will bark at me!) culture that I've yet experienced.
Bixa, 'lush' is the perfect word. I am a hopeless romantic and I had imagined the bazaar to be exotic...the reality took my breath away. Casimira knows what I mean. As I entered, I came to a still point with unbearable excitement.
The rug decision: I can say that I have been in hundreds of rug shops throughout Turkey and looked at thousands of rugs. Once I spent a day in a small rug making factory in the countryside! A sensual delight. I bought two in the "oldtown" area of Antalya in a shop that was 250 years old. This area was the original port of Antalya....the waters were about 200 metres away. I bought three in total, but I can clearly remember the one I didn't buy in Istanbul....it had woven into it the most exquisite turquoise chrysanthemums.
Lagatta, you need to remember this when coming through Canadian customs...(the Turks don't care when you leave, you just get charged a modest extra weight charge)...It is difficult to disguise three rugs. I lucked into a great immigration officer. I said that I had bought the rugs. He paused, stared at me, and said 'sotto voce'...'You are not bringing in rugs, you are bringing in wall hangings. You pay 20% duty on rugs, and nothing on 'wall hangings', they are art.' I agree that the word bazaar has come to mean something rather cheap and tacky in North America. Not to me! You would love Turkey and it is cheaper than most (all?) of the rest of Europe.
I hope that you all go, it is so intriguing. Casimira, I love and collect hand painted tiles. oh my god. Later, I'll write about Cappodocia and the underground cities and the handpainted churches and homes in the caves of the hills.