The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul has to be one of the most stimulating shopping experiences around. There is something compelling about the smells, colour and noise that make it very difficult not to buy something. Vendors can be incredibly persuasive.
Unless you are walking with purpose rather than browsing, you will more than likely end up chatting to the shop owners – there are so many of them! The competition for your cash really is ferocious, which all adds to the clamour, colour and excitement of the spectacle.
The Grand Bazaar was constructed on the orders of Mehmed II in 1464, and comprises 64 streets and 4400 shops and enterprises that spill out into the narrow alleyways in a kaleidoscopic cacophony of colour and noise. Streets are given over to particular products, so the jewellery souk looks like the original Aladdin’s Cave, while a thousand carpets await their new owners safe from the elements under the domed ceilings and roofs that cover the entire complex.
Curious facts and quotes
Noah’s Ark ended up on Mount Ararat in Eastern Turkey, and Santa Clause – yes that one – was born in Patara. He was St Nicholas, Bishop of Demre in western Turkey.
“If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul”.
Alphonse de Lamartine