Photo Essay: A Bazaar Life

Despite not being much of a shopper, I fell hard for Istanbul and its colourful bazaars. The handmade textiles especially. The whole experience felt more personal than our  shopping malls here in the States, and haggling is so much more fun than standing in line at a checkout. The people working fascinated me too. They ranged in age and character, from overly enthusiastic to falling asleep bored.

Here are some of my favorite photos from four different Istanbul bazaars.

The Arasta Bazaar

A small, outdoor bazaar in Sultanahmet, close to the Blue Mosque. It’s quiet, the salesmen aren’t pushy, and is full of beautiful textiles and pottery.

arasta bazaar

arasta bazaar

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The “Agriculture” Bazaar

I don’t actually know the proper name of this one. I stumbled upon it while searching for the spice bazaar and initially thought it was the spice bazaar, mistaking flower seeds for sea salt! Dog food, bird seed, herbs, flowers, and even fuzzy ducklings can be found here.

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The Spice Bazaar

My favorite, especially for the dried fruit and incredible tea selection. Even the Turkish Delight was better than I imagined. I normally hate the stuff but happened to find some I loved (it was full of pistachios). The next time I visit Istanbul I am staying in an apartment just so I can cook and go grocery shopping here.

istanbul spice bazaar

istanbul spice bazaar

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The Grand Bazaar

The biggest, most famous bazaar in all of Turkey and the ultimate shopping experience. While there are many beautiful and unique things here, there is plenty of junk as well, so patience and a good eye are essential. Haggle with a smile and give yourself plenty of time.

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istanbul grand bazaar lanterns  Eastern Europe2012 1313

istanbul grand bazaar

istanbul grand bazaar carpets

Due to limited backpack space, my only purchases were a silk scarf, a small kilim and a bag full of apple tea. Next time however, I am going to buy a real rug even if I have to ship it home!

What do you think? Have you ever visited a Turkish bazaar? Which one is your favorite?


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