It is the original shopping mall and still the ultimate shopping experience in Istanbul. Still going strong, having over 500 years of history under its belt (not to mention several fires and earthquakes), the Grand Bazaar boasts more than 60 streets and 20 entrances, making it legitimate even for locals to lose their way in its labyrinthine interior.
Walking around the Grand Bazaar and getting lost in its crowded alleys is an experience on its own. But this may also get overwhelming as the shop owners keep luring you in and trying to sell you their best kilim or shisha along with an offer of tea or coffee (which you can accept whether or not you intend to buy something). That is why it is well worth having a few addresses to visit at the bazaar.
Sofa Arts and Antiques
Located just outside the Nuruosmaniye gate of the Grand Bazaar, this, as the name implies, is an eccentric store where you will find rare and valuable pieces of art and antiques, ranging from calligraphy and miniatures to maps and ceramics, sold by its ever-charming and talkative owner Kaşif Bey.
Sofa Arts and Antiques Nuruosmaniye Caddesi No: 53/A Tel. +90 212 5202 850
dhoku & Ethnicon
These sister stores, both owned by third-generation carpet dealer Memet Güreli, bring new meaning to Turkish carpets with their unconventional and contemporary style. At dhoku, old and worn-out carpets and kilims from Anatolia are recycled and upcycled to reinvent unique patchwork pieces for contemporary homes. Right across from dhoku, you will see Ethnicon, where ethnic but contemporary kilims were first introduced to the bazaar.
Dhoku & Ethnicon Takkeciler Sokak No: 58-60 & 49-51 Tel. +90 212 5276 841
If you are after extravagant and original pieces of jewellery, stopping at Istanbul's celebrity jewellery maker Seven Bıçakçı's store is a must for your Grand Bazaar day. He is known for his rings, but he also designs bracelets and necklaces, inspired by traditional Ottoman and Turkish motifs and delivered in over-the-top creations. (The store is located right outside the bazaar, very close to Sofa Arts & Antiques.)
Sevan Bıçakçı Gazi Sinan Paşa Sokak No: 16 Tel. +90 212 5204 516
The ceramics sold at Iznik Art are created by İsmail Yiğit, çini (traditional Turkish pottery) master, and his four apprentices. Using traditional Turkish and Ottoman motifs, they create beautiful tiles and ceramics, showcased in two stores located right across from each other. Their style, however, is unlike most you will see around the bazaar. Their principal characteristic is the result of the materials they use, giving their ceramics matt finishes, adding a slightly more modern edge.
Iznik Art Orta Kazaslar Sokak No. 64 Tel. +90 212 5123 473
Of all the kilim stores at the Grand Bazaar, this one stands out with its unparalleled collection, gathered throughout the owner's travels in Anatolia as well as Central Asia, the Middle East, and the Balkans.
Recep Karaduman Takkeciler Sokak No. 54 Tel. +90 212 5286 611
An international sensation for decades, the calligraphy works at this store are truly one of a kind. Exceptional calligraphy works drawn on dried leaves are then framed, resulting in an art piece that knows no equal.
Nicks Calligraphy İç Bedesten No: 24 Tel. +90 212 5135 473
Tesbihçi Cemil ve Kadir Karateke
Whether for religious or decorative purposes, if you are after Islamic prayer beads, do check out this store where you will find a unique selection made with semi-precious stones as well as plant seeds!
Tesbihçi Cemil ve Kadir Karateke İç Bedesten No. 141-142 Tel. +90 212 5276 523