Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı, literally “covered bazaar”) is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world and remains an integral part of daily local life among city residents and visitors alike. With sixty-one covered streets, more than three thousand shops, five hundred stalls, and eighteen fountains, the Grand Bazaar attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors each day. First constructed by Sultan Mehmet II in the fifteenth century within the walled part of the city and destroyed by fire several times, the bazaar achieved its current shape and organization by the seventeenth century, earning the unbridled praise of European travelers and traders who marveled at its sheer size and abundance. Today, with its traditional shops and merchandise, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar continues to be an alluring draw for shoppers from around the globe.
The Spice Market (Mısır Çarşı, literally “Egyptian Bazaar”) draws its name from the Ottoman-ruled districts in Egypt that provided the revenue to build the structure in 1660. The Spice Market, second only to the Grand Bazaar in size, was designed by the great Ottoman court architect, Koca Kasim Aga. Today the Spice Market boasts more than eighty-five shops selling spices, Turkish delight and other sweets, jewelry, souvenirs, and dried fruits and nuts.