Istanbul tours are probably the most fulfilling cultural tours in Turkey that you will encounter. Grand Bazaar Tour will be the most enchanting one.
You have a lot of walking route options when it comes to discovering Istanbul by walking. You can start with “half day tours” and continue with “1 day tours”. Or you can combine my “Walking Tour” routes in a way that suits your needs.
You can be your own tour guides and create your own private Istanbul tours after you read my suggestions for you.
Here is the 6th Walking Tour that covers all the essentials of a Grand Bazaar Tour;
This is one of the best Istanbul Tours that introduces you to the most important cultural highlights of Istanbul.
It starts with the classical must-see of Istanbul Tours; the marvellous Grand Bazaar and goes further afield to explore another cultural landmark of the Old City; Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque Complex.
You will explore the heart of commerce in Ottoman Empire period. You will witness the opulent past of the Old City.
I created a route that takes you in and around all of the important and interesting parts of the Grand Bazaar.
It will be best if you keep following my footsteps until you have a clear understanding of the Bazaar. Then you can get out of track if you want to see other parts of the Grand Bazaar.
One of the worlds most picturesque and enchanting bazaars with its domes and vaults, Grand Bazaar was the heart of commerce during Ottoman Empire period for centuries.
And it is still a very important commercial center for Istanbul.
Grand Bazaar covers an entire area of 30 hectares and it is one of the largest covered markets in the world with more than 60 streets, 4000 shops, 18 fountains, a well with a pump, 12 warehouses, 40 hans with 2200 rooms (a type of a hotel where traders could secure their wares), 12 mosques, 1 school and 1 hamam. It is well known for its jewelry, pottery, spice and carpet shops.
The Grand Bazaar seems like a riddle that can not be solved easily at first. But when you realize that it has a logical setup in itself, you can figure out how not to get lost in it. Its central area forms a regular grid.
Originally the shops on the same street sold the same kinds of products. The names of the streets, bedestens and hans come from these various market guilds that were on those places.
You will thoroughly enjoy the spectacular atmosphere of this marvelous marketplace, even if you have no interest in shopping.
It is not possible to cover the whole place in one day but what you see will stay with you for a long time. I have covered all the essentials for you.
Get in the Grand Bazaar through the Bayezit Gate, facing “Divan Yolu (Imperial Road)” in Beyazıt.
Walk along the “Kalpakçılar Street”, it is full of jewellery stores. This street will probably the one that you will see this much gold in one place, at one time in your Istanbul Tours. It is the widest street in Grand Bazaar.
You will see side streets on your right and your left, but keep walking.
Then you will see a sign “Kürkçüler Çarşısı”, enter there and you will see a small, nice square. You can take a stroll in this small square if you'd like to.
Now get back to the “Kalpakçılar Street” again, turn right and keep walking until you get to the entrance at your left, you will see a sign “Old Bazaar – Sandal Bedesteni” on that entrance.
Get through the gate and you are in;
This “Bedesten” (a small bazaar, read as bed-as-ten) is one of the two earliest constructions of the Grand Bazaar. (The other is Cevahir Bedesteni, we will see that too) These two bedestens were constructed right after the conquest in 1453.
You are now standing in the oldest han that you will see in your Istanbul Tours. You will feel the charming atmosphere in this old building when you see the high vaults and arches made of bricks.
Now get through the gate on the left side of the “Sandal Bedesteni - Old Bazaar ” and get to the “Sandal Bedesteni Street”.
Turn right, walk a little bit and take the first left and you are on “Keseciler Street”. Walk along this street. The other Old Bazaar is right next to you but you will get in it a little bit later.
You will see a marble fountain in a while. Actually, you will encounter quite a number of fountains on your Istanbul Tours. That is because water and cleanliness is very important in Turkish tradition.
Take the right from that fountain and you are on “Takkeciler Street”. Keep walking until you see the twin sister of the fountain you saw earlier.
Take the right from this fountain and you are on the most popular street of Grand Bazaar;
This street became a focal point in Grand Bazaar in the last decade. And it is probably the most authentic place that you will see in your Istanbul Tours.
You can find cool boutiques, cafes and restaurants here. This is the new attraction center for the ones who follow new trends in Istanbul.
You have lots of choices if you want to have a break here. One of them is my favorite though;
Have one of their smoothies, lean back to your chair and watch the people go by. These smoothies are the best in town. You can have something to eat if you feel hungry. But wait a little longer if you can, cause there is a better place for lunch.
Price: Average - High
Take the left when you get to the end of the “Halıcılar Street”. You are now on “Kuyumcular Street”.
You will see a very tiny wooden structure named “Boybeyi” at the middle of the street. Thisis probebly the tiniest store that you will see on your Istanbul Tours. It serves as a jewellery store today but it used to be a pudding store before. One can only imagine Hobbits eating pudding on that second floor…
Get past that tiny structure and keep walking. You will see an entrance on your right and a sign on it “Zincirli Han”.
Get through the gate and you are in;
Get in and see this small courtyard and stores surrounding it. There is a huge tree, a small marble pool and a marble fountain at the middle of the courtyard.
This is a small two-storey Han and definitely worth seeing. It is really in good shape unlike other small hans that you will see on your stanbul Tours. And it has a peaceful feel to it, always makes me feel good.
It would be perfect if they served tea for the ones sitting in the courtyard.
Now get out of this small peace-generator, turn right and take the first turn which is immediately on your left. You are now on “Perdahçılar Street”.
Keep walking and turn right when you reach “Yağcılar Street”. You will see an entrance on your left and a very small sign on it that says “Cebeci Han”.
Get in through that entrance and you are in;
This Han and its two courtyards are unfortunately are not in a good shape. The building is not intact, it has been changed a lot and most of its parts are demolished.
But you can still see some parts of the old construction, the huge size of it and you can have a feeling of how it was before.
The good news is; there is a nice Turkish Cuisine restaurant in the first courtyard of Cebeci Han. If you are hungry, this is a very good option for a lunch.
It is not the most stylish place in the Bazaar but it has lots of advantages. They serve very delicious Turkish Cuisine meals and desserts with big portions. You can find delicious options if you are a vegetarian. (which means this is a “Heaven on Earth” for me…)
The service is fast. The staff is really nice and attentive enough. You get to sit in open air. After strolling in the Bazaar for 1-2 hours, it feels good to have some sunshine on you.
After your yummy lunch, get out of the “Cebeci Han”, turn left, you are back on the “Yağcılar Street”. Walk a little further and you will see an entrance on your left and a small sign on it that says “Astarcı Han”.
Get in through that entrance and you are in;
Take a stroll in the courtyard of this Han. You will see a very old water pump here, it is one of the many water pumps in Grand Bazaar. It has a simple system and still works.
There is a cafe that you can have a drink in the courtyard; Kardeşler Cafe.
This is a nice place that you can stop for a cold drink or a snack. It is in the courtyard of Astarcı Han. You can stop here and have a drink if you’d like to. Having some sunshine will feel good.
After your stroll in Astarcı Han, get out, turn right when you are back on the “Yağcılar Street”. Walk along this street until you see the famous “Şark Kahvesi”.
This is an old style Turkish Coffeehouse. These coffeehouses were the gathering points of men in Ottoman times. Today it is a good point for travelers to sit and watch the crowd go by. Besides it is a good spot to have a real Turkish coffee. This is one of the most original Turkish Coffehouses that you will see on your Istanbul Tours.
Now take the “Zenneciler Street” which is across the “Şark Kahvesi”, slightly to the right. Keep walking on this street and you will see the sign “Antique Bazaar, Old Market”.
Get through that entrance and you are in;
This is the Bazaar I’ve mentioned earlier. “Cevahir Bedesteni (Antique Bazaar)” is one of the two earliest constructions of the Grand Bazaar and was built right after the conquest in 1453. (The other is “Sandal Bedesteni – Old Bazaar”). These two are the oldest Han buildings that you will see in your Istanbul Tours.
You can see that the construction system of these two hans are the same; high vaults and arches built in bricks.
The atmosphere of this han is probably the best in the Bazaar. No one tries to convince you to get in to their store.
The stores are focused on antiques and jewellery today. You can find the best antiques here on your Istanbul Tours. It used to be the antiques center of Istanbul for years, hence the name, but today jewellery is more dominant. You can stroll around the tiny stores as you wish.
And when you are ready get out of the Cevahir Bedesteni (Antique Bazaar) to the “Kuyumcular Street”. Turn left and walk along. Take the right when you see the tiny building named “Boybeyi Jewellery” and you are on “Aynacılar Street”.
Walk straight, reach the Mahmutpaşa Gate but don’t exit. Take the right and get on the “Çuhacı Han Street”.
This is a tiny street with tiny buildings on it. But one of them is a very big one compared to the rest. You will see the entrance of the “Çuhacı Han”.
Get through that gate and you are in;
Now get back to “Çuhacı Han Street”, turn left and head to the exit. You are now out of the Grand Bazaar and on “Nuruosmaniye Street”. Walk along this street and you will see the gate of the mosque complex at your left.
What you will see here are;
- The “Gate 1, Nuruosmaniye Exit” of the Grand Bazaar, on your right. Pease take a good look at this sound entrance construction which is more than 500 years old.
- A nice fountain on your left, with Ottoman Rococo decorations carved on stone,
- Surrounding walls of “Nur-u Osmaniye Mosque” and the entrance gate of this mosque,
- A sebil (free water distribution system in Ottoman times, read as “say-bill”) on the right side of the gate of the Mosque, with very nice Ottoman Rococo decorations carved on stone and a curved canopy on it and wrought iron window frames with very artistic floral decorations on them. It is probably one of the most decorative sebil structure that you will see on your Istanbul Tours.
Get through the beautiful gate between the fountain and the sebil and you are in;
This complex is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture style, in Istanbul. It was commissioned by Sultan Mahmud I in 1748 and finished in 1755 during the reign of Sultan Osman III. It is a must-see if you want to get the most of your Istanbul Tours.
The complex consists of a mosque, a library, a medrese (teology school, read as mad-ra-sah), an imaret (soup kitchen for the poor, read as e-muh-ret), a sebil (free water distribution system in Ottoman times, read as “say-bill) and an ablution fountain (for cleaning before the prayer).
It has a courtyard which has one of the best views in Istanbul, overlooking the Golden Horn and Bosphorus Strait. It is worth a visit while you are this close. It is going to be one of the highlights of your Istanbul Tours. You will thank me for this…
Now you can get back on the "Çuhacı Han Street" using the same Gate. Walk along the street and when you reach the Mahmutpaşa Gate again, this time you are ready to exit the marvellous Grand Bazaar.
I hope you liked the "Istanbul Tours, Walking Route 6: Grand Bazaar".
This is one of the best Istanbul Tours that will give you the authentic feeling of Grand Bazaar.
And I hope you are not tired yet! There are lots of "Istanbul Tours" options I have created for you...
Now let's head to:
"Istanbul Tours, Walking Route 7: Commercial Heart, From Grand Bazaar to Spice Market"