When many people think of Istanbul, they imagine the organized chaos of the grand bazaars, where glittering objects from far off lands can be snapped up by those with the best bargaining skills. This precursor to the modern shopping mall is alive and well, in the Grand Bazaar Istanbul and (other than the infiltration of some mass-produced wares) remains unchanged for centuries.
The Cevahir Bedesteni (jewelry market) is the oldest part of the Grand Bazaar. Also known as the İç Bedesten (Internal Market), Eski Bedesten (Old Market), or Antik Bedesten (Antique Market), it dates back to the 15th century. It was built on the site of a former Byzantine trading center, in 1461, soon after the Conquest of Istanbul in 1453.
Antique store at Cevahir Bedesteni, Grand Bazaar
The labyrinthine warehouse design contains nearly 120 different stores, with four different entrances (Sahaflar Kapısı, Takkeciler Kapısı, Kuyumcular Kapısı and Zenneciler Kapısı). Although it was originally the Kapalı Çarşı jewelry (Grand Bazaar jewelry) center, it now contains a much wider variety of goods. You can find everything from old watches to calligraphy artworks, and from religious rosaries to hand-made Iznik tiles, along with many other types of handicraft. There is also some silver and gold still on sale.
The world comes from the Persian, bezestan, which comes from word bez (cloth) and bazaar (market). In Turkey it is used to refer to covered markets, like inside the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. The second oldest bedesten is the Sandahl Bedesten, found close by, and added in the 16th century, it was the place to buy a type of luxury cloth made in Bursa. It is now the place to look for carpets, kilims and other textiles.
Main entrance of Cevahir Bedesteni, Grand Bazaar
It is found right in the very center of the Grand Bazaar – which is best reached by taking a tram to the Beyazit/Kapalıçarşı/Grand Bazaar stop. Look out for signs for the Old Bazaar.