A visit to Istanbul (especially if it’s your first time) is not complete without a few mandatory stops. The Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet), Grand Bazaar, Topkapi Palace are usually high on the list of most visitors and a visit to the Spice Bazaar has a place on this list as well.
On our trip to Istanbul, one of the things we were most looking forward to was the visit to the Spice Market. My wife and I both enjoy cooking and the ability to sample some of the world’s finest, and in some cases rarest, spices and herbs was something we could not pass up. We would not be disappointed!
The Bazaar itself dates back to the late 16th century when it was first part of the Yeni Mosque. At the time, the building that houses the current bazaar hosted a variety of shops who’s revenues went to support the costs of maintaining the Mosque. In it’s earliest days, the Bazaar was referred to as the “Egyptian Bazaar” apparently because the funding of the construction had come from Egypt.
Today the Spice Bazaar is home to 88 shops, most of whom sell spices, herbs, caviar and Turkish baked goods including their famous “Turkish Delight”. Other shops sell typical “tourist souvenir” fare for those interested in finding something to take home as a momento of their visit.
The Bazaar is a T-Shape building and is near the Galata bridge and only a short walk from the Grand Bazaar, The Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Surrounding the Bazaar are streets and alleys that are lined with additional shops. These shops tended to focus on apparel and housewares (pots, pans, etc) but are worth a look as well. There are many great food options around the bazaar, with most being small restaurants and food stands with room for only a few customers.
Thanks to Milepoint member “From NYC”, we were able to narrow down our shopping to a specific Spice Shop that he had visited on his trip to Istanbul. His recommendation was spot on and we stock up on many different spices (several that we’ve never heard of before!). The name of the shop is Ucuzucar and the shop is located at location #51 in side the Bazaar. Should you find yourself in the Spice Bazaar one day, I would highly recommend them. They took all the time that we needed to sort out the kind of spices we were looking for and all of their recommendations were spot on. They offered discounts based on the amount we purchased and even gave us a few pounds of Turkish Delight as a gesture of thanks. Can’t say enough great things about our experience with them!!
I would recommend that you plan 1-2 hours for a visit to the Bazaar. If you are the kind of shopper that likes to stop at every vendor, you may need to double that number. Most of the spice shops have their items neatly arranged in front of their shop with most having their spices shaped as pyramids. Most of the shops we visited were staffed by very friendly people who were offering free tastes of any spice that would interest us. It actually made for a very pleasant shopping experience.
Images from the Spice Bazaar:
This is only part of a much larger trip report covering the trip to Istanbul and London. If you would like to be informed of future trip reports, please follow me on twitter: @lufthansaflyer.
Here is the current “index” of the trip report. The one’s with hyperlinks have already been completed:
Istanbul – Sultan Ahmed (Sultanahmet) Mosque.
Istanbul – The Basilica Cistern.
Istanbul – The Grand Bazaar
Istanbul – The Spice Market
Istanbul – Park Hyatt Macka Palas.
Istanbul – Our Day with Ihsan (besttaxidriver.com).
Istanbul – Hagia Sophia.
Istanbul – Other Mosques and Churches.
Istanbul – I find out what Zultanite is….
Istanbul – The Food We Found.
Istanbul – Turkish Airlines’ International CIP Lounge.
London – Hyatt Andaz Liverpool Street.
London – Opening of Parliament – Great pictures of the Queen and procession to Parliament.
London – ‘The Sunshine Boys’ at the Savoy Theater (Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths)…..BRILLIANT, MUST SEE!
London – Spitalfield’s Antique Market – And the lesson I learned.
London – Churchill War Rooms and Churchill Museum.
London – Photos from around town.
London – Dinner at Petrus
London – St. James Park: Feathers and Fur
London – Covent Gardens.
London – All the other things that I can’t think of at the moment….
Pluckley – They said it was haunted……