LUXE City Guides - Istanbul - - The Grand Bazaar (kapali Çarsi)¸ -

Both the Grand Bazaar and the Egyp­tian Spice Bazaar are closed on Sun­days. Im­por­tant Note: The Grand Bazaar is a very se­ri­ous ‘hus­band bore­dom zone’, you would be wise to drop­kick old Grum­plestilt­skin into nearby Aya­so­fya Ha­mami (see Ham­mam), or risk the con­se­quences. Se­cond Im­por­tant Note: You are ex­pected to bar­gain, but it is thor­oughly point­less try­ing to do so when wear­ing a di­a­mond-stud­ded Franck Muller and clutch­ing a croc Birkin. Al­righty, stock up on cash, purses out and off you go...

Have your cab stop at the Nu­ru­os­maniye Gate en­trance. Be­fore you plun­der the ac­tual Bazaar, there are a cou­ple of gems you should see. With your back to the gate look up Nu­ru­os­maniye Cad., on its right at #53a is Sofa / 520 2850 / kashif­ / a trea­sure chest of an­tiques and jew­ellery, Kasif is an ex­pert on Iznik ce­ram­ics and a mine of info. Now, turn right into lit­tle Ali Baba Türbe Sok. just af­ter Sofa to find the newer, mod branch of Fes Café (the orig­i­nal comes later). Guys, if you wish to find the ex­tra­or­di­nary Se­van Biçakçi (see Adv. Shop) sim­ply cont. up this al­ley and first left into Kutlu Han, he’s on the left at #16. Just be­fore you en­ter the Nu­ru­os­maniye Gate, to your right is Nur Car­pets and Kil­ims / Verzirhan Cad. 86 / 527 4683 / with fab an­tique kil­ims, and #71 Etno / 527 4683 / con­tempo lo­cal­ly­de­signed hand­i­crafts. En­ter the gate, trot through the gar­den pas­sage to the Bazaar and plunge in. All the lanes are named and sign­posted at in­ter­vals up above, so if you get lost fol­low the signs to find your way back here, or run around pan­ick­ing, whichever you pre­fer. The main artery is Kal­pakçi­lar Cad. First up on the right at #4 is jew­eller Kir­giz, for emer­alds and di­a­monds; next door are Kafkas / 522 0326, and Mehmet Cüm­bus for more girls’ best friends, with Timucin at #24 / 522 6357, ask to see the hid­den jew­els. Carry on and take the first right down Sandal Bedesteni Sok., great for kaf­tans, but also for Cha­l­abi / 522 8171 / gold and Ot­toman trin­kets, and Doc­tor An­tik / 522 7549 / beaut trad em­broi­dery and glass. Re­trace to Kal­pakçi­lar Cad., turn right then im­me­di­ate left to find the leather sec­tion of the Bazaar. Up front at #22 is Koç / 527 5553 / the best of the best, luxe, leather and fur jack­ets. Re­trace back to Kal­pakçi­lar, turn left to cont. into Takke­ciler Sok. On the first cor­ner with Divrikli Sok. pop into Car­pet Inn / 527 6206 / car­ / for real Turk­ish car­pets, kil­ims, suzani and more. On the next cor­ner along (with Kese­ciler), don’t miss Cash­mere House / 527 6960 / cash­mere­ / just past the foun­tain. Ilyas is the pash-man extraordinaire, and could sell a bike to a fish. All colours, all qual­i­ties, incl. the fine, furry and pricey shem­ina. All pashed up, re­trace to the cis­tern and turn right. Head straight along Takke­ciler Sok. to find fine hand­made pot­tery and tiles at #82 Iznik Works / 522 4242 /, then stop at #49 Eth­ni­con / 527 6841 / eth­ni­ / for one-of-a-kind con­tempo kil­ims. Across at #58 is Dhoku / 527 6841 / / the per­fect mod an­ti­dote to the end­less same-same car­pets and kil­ims you see ev­ery­where else. The own­ers have a great eye and stock some very high qual­ity an­tique pieces and rare finds in the ware­house that you can ask to see. Fur­ther down on the right is Meha / 527 6841 / / the Bazaar’s best orig­i­nal ushaks. Trot on and turn right at the foun­tain into Hali­cilar Cad. On the left is Dervis / 514 4525 / / for nat­u­ral soaps and opp. is Ab­dulla / 527 3684 / with tow­els, ham­mam ac­ces­sories, rus­tic fab­rics and fur throws.

Next door is the fa­mous Fes Café (see Coffee). Just af­ter it, make a right for the old­est part of the Bazaar, the Ce­vahir Bedesteni, and clock the lovely old brick vaulted roof. This area has a bunch of an­tiques, old sil­ver and what­not, but be sure to ask for ex­port cer­tifi­cates for any­thing over 100 years old. On the first cor­ner to your right is Er­dun Col­lec­tion / 526 7628 / for lanterns new and old, and opp. is Eski / 512 5238 / a tiny shop spe­cial­is­ing in manuscripts, gravures and old icons. Head left now for jew­eller Ser­hat Geri­don­mez’s shop (opp. Mas­jed), which has unique, hand­made old Ot­toman and Hel­lenis­tic de­signs, crafted to­gether with an­tique beads or stones (ask to see what’s in his safe...). Fol­low the road, cross the main road of the Bedesteni and ram­ble on. The next right brings you to Lale / 522 4600 / a whop­ping col­lec­tion of sil­ver table­ware, ev­ery­thing from con­tempo to vul­gar, and next door the colour­ful strings of co­ral, turquoise, and lapis of Stil Inci & Kuyum­cu­luk / 512 2839 / bead shop extraordinaire. Drop by Nick’s Cal­lig­ra­phy / 513 5473 / nickscal­lig­ra­ / on the cor­ner next to the beads for unique cal­lig­ra­phy in­tri­cately carved onto leaves. Now, re­trace and con­tinue along Bedesteni Sok., stop­ping by #268 for Ali Gulec’s bauble and gem-string shop, and you’ll exit un­der the ‘bye-bye’ sign. Aww... So sweet. Take the first right into Kese­ciler Cad., go past the foun­tain, turn right into Takke­ciler Sok. then swivel left into Zen­neciler Sok. and even­tu­ally slip right into belly dance cos­tume street, Yag˘likçi­lar Cad. Still with us? Good, we’ve got more to go yet. Shimmy on and you’ll pass S¸ark Kahvesi on the left, the Bazaar’s old­est coffee shop. Keep go­ing, soon on your right is Hali­cilar Cad., on the left hand side at #5 is one of the best se­crets of the Bazaar – Eski / 536 580 4882 / look for the ‘In­ter Mi­lano’ sign out­side / is an Aladdin’s cave of unique art and an­tiques, and the staff are very re­source­ful with find­ing col­lectibles. Fur­ther down on the right is Dilek Hed Esya / 522 0578 / for hand­made backgam­mon and chess sets, and hand-painted Kü­tahya ce­ramic. Back on Yag˘. Sokag˘i, you’re now en­ter­ing the fab­ric quartier. Choices. If you want a quick bite in one of the Bazaar’s most au­then­tic Turk­ish restau­rants, turn left and take the first right into Sari Haci Hasan Sokag˘i. At the first in­ter­sec­tion with Gani Çelebi Sok., look up for Havu­zlu’s neon sign and tuck in. If not, back at Yag˘. Sokag˘i, two lanes up on your right is Per­dahçi­lar Sokag˘i, zip down and a few stores down on your left at #48 is Muh­lis Gün­batti / 511 6562 / this charm­ing raw stone vault is home to a large col­lec­tion of Afghan and Turk­ish fab­rics, some of which have been art­fully trans­formed into dress­ing gowns and kaf­tans. It’s back to Yag˘. Sokag˘i, swing right and the next left is lit­tle Ce­beci Han. if old Azer­bai­jani and Suzani tex­tiles and bed­spreads are your thang, the first shop on your right is #1 Is­mail Dere­gozu / 511 8336. Across from Çe­beci Han, on the right hand side of Yag˘. Sokag˘i is the even smaller al­ley Çukur Han. Scram­ble through and soon on your right is a teeny ‘court­yard’, home to weeny Turquaz (see Adv. Shop.). Re­trace to Yag˘. Sokag˘i one last time and carry on right. For a real treat, stop at #57 Si­vasli Yaz­macisi / 526 7748 / and ask Murat to show you his fab­ric stash. It’s no sur­prise that in­ter­na­tional fash­ion de­sign­ers fre­quent this de­cep­tively or­di­nary-look­ing store.

Fi­nally, carry on along Yag˘. Sokag˘i to the very end, and on your right by the exit gate is Egin Tek­stil / 528 2618, renowned for their waf­fle tow­els and pat­terned bathing fab­rics. You’ve done it! You’ve probed deep into the very bow­els of the Grand Bazaar. Olympian Shop­per! Now, if it’s around lunchtime, head straight on out of the Bazaar here and about 10 mins walk down­hill will bring you to the Rüstem Pasa¸ Mosque, with its fab tile in­te­rior, or turn right here onto Hasir­cilar Cad. and fol­low your nose to the fab­u­lous and fra­grant Egyp­tian Spice Bazaar (Misir Çars¸i). It makes Dubai’s Old Spice Souk look like a pal­try salt and pep­per set. Just be­fore the en­trance is Ku­rukahveci / 511 42 62 / for fresh Turk­ish grinds, to have here or to go. In­side the Spice Bazaar, you’ll also find top qual­ity Per­sian and Rus­sian caviar. As you first en­ter, head left down the hall to­wards the har­bour to Aladdin and Hayat spice stores for the most cov­eted lokum (Turk­ish de­light), and look for goody bags at Tura. Exit to­wards the Eminönü tram stop, and eyes up to see Hamdi (see Lunch). Fab ’babs!

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