The Bedesten is The Oldest Section in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar was built in the mid-1400’s by Mehmet the Conqueror to serve the major trading center of Constantinople in Byzantine times.Since this was where persons doing same business could gather, streets were given names according to their trade. Fur Cap sellers, jewelers, mirror sellers, etc. As if all this isn’t enough, the Grand Bazaar is surrounded by small caravanserais, tiny boutiques and workshops.

The Inner (Old) Bedesten was the first building to rise in the Grand Bazaaer with four gates leading in. Bouquinistes, Hat Shops, Jewelry Shops and Costume Shops. Because this was the most secure area in the Grand Bazaar, expensive goods were usually sold here. Travels With Sheila likes to make a beeline into the smaller Old Bedesten filled with antique shops selling incredible objects. Think of these shops as miniature museums. One in particular, Istanbul Antique, Serifaga Sk. #18-20 had Ottoman and Seljuk pieces that were priceless and way beyond most people’s budget. Mr. Baykal was extremely gracious about sharing his knowledge and time. My favorite was Ottoman shoes with towering 5-6 inch heels, inlaid with mother of pearl and silver for women in the Sultan’s Harem! (He could afford to be generous.) And Jimmy Choo thinks he created unique shoes… What’s the saying, Everything old is new again?

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Bedesten entrance in Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar
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mother of pearl and silver shoes for Harem women, Grand Bazaar
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look at the heel height on these priceless shoes for women in the Sultan’s Harem


The Sandal Bedesten is the other covered Bazaar, called that because a type of cloth woven of cotton and silk fibers, named “Sandal” was sold here. With the most number of domes, it can be accessed through two gates: main gate and Nuruosmaniye district.

Looked at and lusted after Old Ottoman purses…View image, belts, scimitars, intricate Ottoman jewelry until I thought my head was going to explode from sensory overload.

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Ottoman scimitars and belts in the Old Bedesten, Istanbul
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gold coin and coral Ottoman necklace in the Old Bedesten, Istanbul


People can spend days in the Grand Bazaar and I would have returned for one more day of browsing but tomorrow was Sunday when the Bazaar closes. At least three hours spent walking up and down as many aisles as possible, until neither of us could look at another thing. Reminder…look up at the ceilings every now and then in the older sections. Quite beautiful.

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an old lane in the Bedesten, Grand Bazaar
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Grand Bazaar exit, Istanbul


By this time, groups were arriving in full force. Come early or come late, not around the midday. FYI: A policeman scans backpacks at each entrance. With help from different locals, we headed for Gate 5 to exit only to discover even more shops on the street leading into infinity and beyond…View image.


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