Grand Bazaar is considered as one of the oldest and largest covered markets in the world.
In 1455, two years after the conquest, with order of Sultan Mehmed II, construction of wooden Cevahir Bedesten started to boost the trade capacity of Istanbul. With additional bedestens for two centuries, it formed as today’s Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul has been always on the cross-roads of important trade routes, and with the extension of the Ottoman Empire’s borders, its importance grew to more than before. Variety and quality of goods sold in Bazaar was also famous in Europe. From what we can learn from writings of the Turkish traveler, Evliya Celebi, there were 3,000 shops in 17th century, one tenth of the shops in all city settled in Grand Bazaar and bedestens around.
The Industrial Revolution negatively effected Ottoman trade and economy. Ottomans couldn’t adapt their conventional production methods to new age mass production. In 19th century, non-competitive imported goods caused the rents in Grand Bazaar to lower ten times than two decades before. Moreover, non-muslim minorities such as Greeks, Armenians, Jews grew wealthier because of their foreign relations, and they moved from Bazaar to modern neighborhoods like Pera and Galata.
Today, Grand Bazaar is visited by 250,000-350,000 people daily, that makes it the worlds’ most popular tourist attraction. Shops mostly appeal to local and foreign tourists. Shops offers goods as tiles, potteries, carpets, leather clothes, hookahs, backgammon boards, spices, and much more.