Thursday, February 21, 2013

At the Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Market, Istanbul, Turkey

Dear readers, let us continue our tour of markets, which are always fun.  One of the oldest and grandest anywhere is the Grand Bazaar of Istanbul. According to Wikipedia, the Büyük Çarşı, meaning "Grand Bazaar" is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world. It contains 61 covered streets and 3,000 shops, and may attract 250,000 to 400,000 visitors every day.

When I was here in the 1960s, it was still pretty authentic (= smelly, dark, questionable sanitary standards, suspicious jewelry).  Unfortunately, I do not have any photographs from that era.  Bad or good news (depending on your opinion of modernization):  today it is clean, well-lit, and the vendors take credit cards. There are even ATMs for your convenience.  That takes some of the fun out of the experience.  However, keeping up with the times is how a 500-year-old institution thrives.  We were warned that many of the authentic "Turkish" carpets are made in China now.

Trivia question:  What James Bond movie has some scenes in the Grand Bazaar?  Answer:  From Russia with Love, the second Bond film, released in 1963 and starring Sean Connory.

Proceed east, downhill towards the Golden Horn, and you reach the Egyptian Market. On a Sunday, this is a lot of fun. The barrel-vaulted building, dating from 1660, is also known as the Spice Bazaar (Turkish: 'Mısır Çarşısı'). The "Egypt" part of the name may come from the fact that revenues from Egypt, then part of the Ottoman Empire, helped pay for construction.

You can buy clothing, all sorts of nuts and spices, and the normal farmers' market stuff. The dry figs that I ate here and in central Anatolia were the most delicious I have ever tasted.
These are a bit more mysterious.  Do you eat the red berries or the yellow husk?
If figs or unusual fruits are not enough, visit the operatic gyro vendor.  His pita sandwiches looked really good, as did the fries and chilled juices, and he sings for you.
When it is time for a drink, these gents sell genuine freshly-squeezed orange juice, but I am not sue if they sing.

In keeping with the theme of appreciating the local ladies of the market, this trio is has plenty of attitude.
I suppose this little guy also had attitude.

If you prefer quieter ladies, some of them are missing parts of their heads, while others are missing their undergarments.
When you tire of the crush of people at the markets, cross the Golden Horn on the Galata Bridge (Galata Köprüsü). The waterway has been spanned by bridges since the time of Justinian the Great. Leonardo da Vinci designed a bridge for this site, but the sultan chose not to build it. This is the view back across the Horn, with the Süleymaniye (Süleymaniye Camii) Ottoman imperial Mosque on the skyline.
Walk along the waterfront west of the Galata Bridge, and you come to a casual restaurant that grills freshly-caught sardines, served at tiny tables.  They have big crunchy rolls, so you can make a sardine Po-Boy. Good company, a beer, sardines, the Golden Horn: it doesn't get much better than this....

Older market posts:

Most Istanbul photographs were taken with a Sony DSC-W7 compact digital camera.

1 comment:

  1. Love the ladies again! I wonder if that is where the phrase "half a brain" originated?