The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, and our trip wouldn’t have been complete if we didn’t take a day to explore the over 4,000 shops, and tour around the 61 covered streets.
What catches you first, besides the aromatic scents of spices that fill the air, or the colorful chaos of locals bartering with different shop owners, is the history of the place: It is steeped in old stories and old conquests dating as far back as 1455. It started as a small warehouse built by order of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, but it has since grown to an incredible labyrinth full of hidden doorways and narrow lanes.
Saffron is best when it’s fresh, so how could I not pick up plenty when I was at the spice market. I also indulged in fresh dates, curry powder, nuts and plenty of Turkish tea.
Inexpensive and beautiful fabric shops are everywhere in the Bazaar. I found some great places behind the Spice Bazaar in Sultanhamam, where they had some stunning Turkish home textiles, linens, pillows, artisanal crafts and hand woven fabrics in rich colours and patterns. I can envision using some of the fabrics for a table runner, or tablecloth at home to add that pop of colour to existing home décor.