Bazaars are an endless source of smiles, joy and inspiration for me. Just as we need calm in our lives, on the other hand, we also need the wild and crazy energy of life – the balance is important. And in the bazaars you really find the taste of life!
This topic is endlessly broad and I cannot cover it sufficiently in this short post, but you can still see examples of different bazaar areas through the photos and short videos.
The locals find my passionate delight in bazaars amusing, because bazaars are everyday routine for them. But they mostly go to the vegetable, spice and fish bazaars, whereas I go everywhere.
The most famous bazaars in Istanbul are located on the European side, in the Fatih district, the Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) and the Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) and the enormous outdoor bazaar area in between. But this is mainly for tourists, so I hope you explore the bazaar areas elsewhere as well.
You can find a bazaar almost everywhere in Istanbul, as long as you don’t walk past it without noticing it. The doorway is often small and inconspicuous, but a surprisingly large area of shops opens behind it. It is good to note that, in addition to the Turkish word “çarşı”, “pasajı” often means a bazaar-type shopping center (the word for a modern giant mall is “alışveriş merkezi”).
Both outdoor and indoor areas are called bazaars and often they specialize in a certain type of product.
In addition, bazaars can appear suddenly as if out of nowhere. For example, in our neighborhood, Friday is bazaar day, when vegetable sellers from the countryside spread out into our nearby streets, turning our neighborhood into a bazaar for one day. So the cars give way to the vegetables. A great idea, such healthy and fresh food is easily available.
As a small tip, I would say that you should be alert in every way in the bazaars in the tourist areas. And be aware of your location and your direction, because in these maze-like streets you usually can’t navigate using the internet – and the areas are larger than you imagine. In tourist areas, prices are negotiable so it’s normal to barter. And you can calm the overzealous sellers down either by answering in Turkish or by telling them that you live with your family in Istanbul.
In other bazaar areas, you will not be bothered much; this is part of Turkish polite manners. In these areas of the locals, I recommend leaving fair tips instead of bartering, this way you directly support bazaar merchant families from whom the difference in the value of money threatens to take away their livelihoods. In fact, it is impolite to bargain during these times. You get a lot from the bazaars, so you can also give a lot if you want – even with small actions.
Have an adventurous bazaar day!