Travel Guide to Istanbul, Shopping Bazaars and Malls

Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalicarsi in Turkish) is one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world. It was built of wood after the Conquest of Istanbul around an old Byzantine building which became the part of Old Bedesten (Old Bazaar) today, and got bigger and larger throughout the centuries with the addition of new sections and inns. The Bazaar initially consisted of two warehouses only, known as Inner Bedesten and Sandal Bedesten. Later on open streets were covered with doomed roofs, and separate buildings connected to each other. Today it covers an area of approximately 31thousand square meters with its over 3000 shops (some even say 4000), 17 inns (Han), 61 streets, over 20thousand employees, 4 fountains, 10 wells, 2 mosques, several cafes and restaurants, change offices, a police station, and 22 gates. It resembles a giant labyrinth and can be a little complicated for the first time visitor, but after a couple of visits there you can familiarize with it because streets are arranged almost on a grid plan, and shops tend to group themselves according to the type of goods they sell.

The old wooden Grand Bazaar built by Mehmet II suffered several fires and earthquakes during centuries but has always been repaired after each disaster. Last restorations were made after a big fire in the mid-fifties when it was finally made of stone. During Ottoman times all kinds of jewelry, fabrics, weaponry and antiques were sold by merchants, unfortunately today quilt makers, slipper makers, turban and fez makers do not exists anymore. Today it's a heaven for shoppers with its traditional shops and goods. There are thousands of things you can find and buy in the Grand Bazaar, or just enjoy local people and Turkish hospitality with some window shopping. It's one of the most significant tourist sites in Istanbul owing to its location, architecture, history and fame. Depending on the season, between 250-400thousand people visit the Bazaar everyday.

The Grand Bazaar is open daily between 09:00-19.00 except on Sundays and during public or religious holidays.

Egyptian Bazaar

The Egyptian Bazaar (Misir Carsisi in Turkish) is also known as Spice Market. It's located just behind the Yeni Mosque at Eminonu district, at the entrance of the Golden Horn. The Bazaar was originally made of wood in mid-17th century by the architect Kazim Aga, and got its final restorations during mid-forties. The name comes from the fact that Egyptians used to sell their spices here and that it once received income from taxes levied on Egypt. Instead the English name comes from the days when the Bazaar specialized on selling spices and herbs, medicinal plants and drugs. Lately there are also shops selling stuff other than spices but you can still see and smell many interesting spices, dried fruits and nuts, teas, oils and essences, sweets, honeycombs, and aphrodisiacs. The Spice Market has 86 shops inside and there stands a plant market on one side and a food market on the other. There are 6 gates on an L-shaped Bazaar. The ceiling is higher respect to Grand Bazaar and this is also covered with domes. The Egyptian Bazaar is open daily between 09:00-19.00 except during public or religious holidays. Since 2009 the bazaar stays open on Sundays too, between 10:00-18:00.

Arasta Bazaar

The Arasta Bazaar, also known as Sipahi Carsisi in Turkish, is located behind the Blue Mosque in the old city center, just next to the entrance of the Mosaics Museum. Despite The Grand Bazaar, Arasta Bazaar is a small and simple traditional market in Istanbul. There are about 40 shops lined on both sides of a street, selling traditional items. Originally this place was built in the 17th century and used to be stables during the Ottoman period. It suffered damage from many fires and left in ruins for a long period. In the eighties it was converted into shops, permitting the money from rents to be used in the restoration works of the Blue Mosque.

The Arasta Bazaar is open daily.

Sahaflar Carsisi

Sahaflar Carsisi, the second hand book bazaar, stands in the old courtyard between Beyazid Mosque and Grand Bazaar. It's one of the oldest markets of Istanbul built on the same site as the Chartoprateia, book and paper market of the Byzantines. However it wasn't until 18th century that booksellers settled their shops here leaving the Grand Bazaar. Printing and publishing legislation introduced soon after thus enabling the trade to expand in the whole courtyard. Also during this century the market remained the main point for book sale and distribution within the Ottoman Empire, and a gathering place for intellectual people. Unfortunately in the last 50-60 years the market lost its importance due to inevitable rise of modern bookstores and lately of the internet. Today there are still some old books, new ones, and examples of Ottoman miniature pages can be found.

The Sahaflar Bazaar is open daily except on Sundays and during public or religious holidays, with the exception of smaller stores.

Istinye Park Shopping Mall

The most important characteristic that separates Istinye Park from other shopping centers is that includes a shopping area inside. You can find the most famous products of the world on this avenue. You can travel to this avenue with your car, park it on the valet park and do your shopping in contentment. There are a butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger and spice seller shops on Pazar Yeri which was built under the influence of the Ottoman Architecture in the center. The concept of Istinye Park is a sum of the Istiklal Avenue, Abdi Ipekçi and Bagdat Avenue. There are analogues of these three avenues. Along with famous avenues of Istanbul, the spirit of the Grand Bazaar and Ortaköy are also reflected in Istinye Park in the form of an open bazaar.

Website: www.istinyepark.com
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Istanbul Zorlu Center Shopping Mall

shopping and events heaven at the heart of Istanbul! With its 180 stores, 10,000 m2 main square, flora of Bosphorus scattered around; Zorlu Center is a little town in itself. This half-open half-closed shopping beauty houses Apple Store, Brooks Brothers, Industrie Denim, Cos, Lanvin, Pomellato, Stella McCartney, and the 1st store of Superdry in Turkey.

What else? Zorlu Performance Arts Center houses world-famous musicals, orchestras, plays and many other fantastic art pieces. But remember to feed your body in Eataly, Jamie's Italian, Tom's Kitchen or Morini before you nurture your soul!

Website: www.zorlucenter.com.tr
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Istanbul Kanyon Shopping Mall

A new destination for anyone with an innovative spirit and a passion for discovery . Space and freedom – an experience that goes beyond shopping, bringing the gab between shopping centers and high streets .It has 160 stores, 9 cinema centers and fitness center. The local and global brands, gourmet restaurant, cafes and open air performances are set in an atmosphere alive with light, sight and sound. Anchored by world famous fashion retailer Harvey Nicholas, and dozens of trendsetting, prestigious brands all introduced to the Turkish Market for the first time, it is the high of style and breadth of selection the marketplace has long desired. Kanyon Mall is a 360-degree consumer experience. Surprising, vibrant and always refreshing.

Website: www.kanyon.com.tr
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Istanbul City's, Nisantasi Shopping Mall

City’s Nisantasi shopping center, is located on the street of Tesvikiye that is the heart of retail shopping in the luxurious district of NISANTASI in Istanbul.

City’s Nisantasi shopping center, is located on the street of Tesvikiye that is the heart of retail shopping in the luxurious district of NISANTASI in Istanbul.

City’s Nisantasi project is a prominent A+ Project that has the top location in Istanbul with an investment of 125.000.000 USD.

City’s features 150 stores, cinemas, top local and global brands, cafes and exclusive restaurants. Starbucks is on the first floor, and the Canadian coffee chain Second Cup Coffee, has opened its first branch in Turkey. On the second floor there is Gloria Jeans Cafe, and Café Crown on the third level.

Website: www.citysnisantasi.com
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Forum Istanbul Shopping Mall

Located in the Bayrampaşa district of Istanbul on a construction area of a total of 495,000 square meters, Forum Istanbul is the biggest mall not only in Turkey, but across Europe. On a leasable area of 175,000 square meters, Forum Istanbul hosts 265 local and international brands as well as global giants such as IKEA, Decathlon, and H&M; to satisfy every shopping need. The shop mix not only focuses on fashion but is strong in every category from home decoration to sports, from electronics to children. Besides a wide range of retail, Forum Istanbul is also noteworthy with its leisure offering, its customer services that create a difference, year-round events and extraordinary architecture.

At Forum Istanbul, there are a total of 11 different entertainment concepts built on a total area of 30,000 square meters. The two most important attractions are Turkuazoo, the first giant aquarium inTurkey, and Jurassic Land, the biggest themed park in Europe. Other leisure units are, Cinemaximumcinemas, Funlab entertainment centreAtlantis Bowling, Tiox virtual world, Sihirli Eller children’s club, Gmax reverse bungee, Flyride Helicopter Tour Simulation, ice rink and mini golf course. In addition to leisure attractions, various national and international events held throughout the year attract visitors from all over the city.

Forum Istanbul is at the geographic center of the city, connected by two major highways E5 and the TEM (Trans-European Motorway). It also has a metro stop within its premises and offers free parking for 5000 vehicles.

Website: www.forumistanbul.com.tr
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Marmara Forum Shopping Mall

Located in Merter with easy access from any point in Istanbul, the Marmara Forum seems to be on the right track to becoming the home of all that is new in Istanbul, with 300 national and international brand names within 135, 000 square meters of rental space.

W Collection, Decathon, Bauhaus, Saturn, Cinemaximum, Boyner, YKM, D&R, H&M, C&A, Play Bowling, Teknosa, Zara, Marks&Spencer, Bimeks, LC Waikiki and FLO are positioned as anchor brands at the Marmara Forum, hosting the first concept hypermarket in Turkey, by Carrefoursa, on an area of 13,000 square meters.Furthermore, there will be jewellery brands such as Atasay, Altınbaş, Gülaylar, Assos and Swarovski at the Marmara Forum in addition to top brands in ladies’ wear, men’s wear, kids’ wear and lingerie, including Massimo Dutti, Nautica, Benetton, Mango, Lacoste, Network, GAP and Armani Junior.

Having allocated 25,000 square meters of its rental space to entertainment and technology, Marmara Forum receives much attention from the young ones since the day it was opened. Marmara Forum already seems to be the next centre of attraction with the innovations it offers and the events held for those in tune with the trends, in addition to its entertainment areas such as bowling halls and movie theatres.Marmara Forum hosts the movie theatre with the highest number of halls in Turkey, with Cinemaximum offering services with a total of 16 movie theatres, some with REAL D screens. The second stop, most frequented by those who visit the mall, is the Marmara Forum food court with 60 different brands. Marmara Forum which has the biggest food court in Turkey is noted for different culinary alternatives offered to its visitors.

The first stop of the families with children at the Marmara Forum is the Kids Street with brand new toy and kids wear brands. Marmara Forum hosts popular kids’ brands at the Kids Street, with its special architecture for children, in addition to playgrounds and care centres.

Website: www.marmara-forum.com.tr
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00

Istanbul Historia Shopping Mall

Historia Fatih Shopping and Life Center gathers fashion, taste and fun thanks to its atmosphere that is integrated with historical texture of the peninsula. It offers a bright and spacious shopping environment to its visitors, with its open-air cafes, fountain pool on the ground floor and the glass cage ceiling that brings the sunlight in. Historia serves wide range of services from clothing and accessory to home decoration, from cafes to technology and food markets. Historia that has alternative food and beverage for everybody's palate, also offers extra services such as; car wash service, shoeshine parlour, pharmacy, tailor, dry-cleaning, and small mosque. Its eight-screen Cinebonus Movie Theater, bowling and playgrounds and activities that are undertaken occasionally such as; fashion shows, concerts, activities for children, signature days are seen great interest. Historia also includes Tax Free Port that is reimbursement tool for the people who live in abroad.

Website: www.historia.com.tr
Open: daily from 10:00 to 22:00