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Shop to your heart's delight at the Grand Bazaar

On your Istanbul holiday, Grand Bazaar is perfect if you have a knack for haggling and if you’re on the lookout for exotic buys. Located in Sultanahmet, Istanbul, it's particularly known for exquisite jewellery, hand-detailed pottery and ceramics, lush carpets, and spice shops; there are also western designer boutiques scattered throughout this shopping maze. For the convenience of visiting shoppers, the stalls in the market are grouped by merchandise, with specific areas for gold jewellery, fine fabrics, and leather coats.

As one of the largest covered markets in the world, the Grand Bazaar or Kapalicarsi covers 61 streets and 4,000 shops; spread over 30.7 hectares, it has 10 wells, 4 fountains, and 2 mosques. You can spend a week exploring all the nooks and crannies of this shopping paradise.

At the heart of the Bazaar is the Byzantine Old Bedesten, the 1st warehouse market of the Kapalicarsi; the gates of Old Bedesten are named Bouguinistes, Hat Shops, Jewellery Shops, and Costume Shops. It's surrounded by 56 other shops. Sandal Bedesten, the 2nd main structure of the Bazaar, was originally built to house the fabric trade.

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The Grand Bazaar used to be a place for traditional craft workshops and antiques, but has evolved into a sprawling maze full of western-style boutiques and tourist shops; there still are a lot of craftsmen and artisans plying their merchandise at the Bazaar, however. The stores in the past used to have open displays, separated by curtains and thin wood partitions; now they are permanently enclosed stalls with illuminated glass storefronts.

The layout of the roads comprising other sections of the Grand Bazaar, apart from the 2 bedestens, is not managed in any organised fashion, giving the impression of a totally unruly network of passages. The vaulted surrounding streets and shops form a haphazard labyrinth, totally unlike the orderly, closed bazaar style of the west.

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