The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalıçarşı, meaning ‘Covered Bazaar’; also Büyük Çarşı, meaning ‘Grand Bazaar’) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops which attract between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it is listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors.
The Grand Bazaar is located inside the walled city of Istanbul, in the district of Fatih and in the neighbourhood (mahalle) bearing the same name (Kapalıçarşı). It stretches roughly from west to east between the mosques of Beyazit and of Nuruosmaniye. The Bazaar can easily be reached from Sultanahmet and Sirkeci by trams (Beyazıt-Kapalıçarşı stop).
Today the Grand Bazaar is a thriving complex, employing 26,000 people visited by between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily, and one of the major landmarks of Istanbul. It must compete with modern shopping malls common in Istanbul, but its beauty and fascination represent a formidable advantage for it. The head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association claimed that the complex was in 2011 – the year of its 550th birthday – the most visited monument in the world. A restoration project starting in 2012 should renew its infrastructure, heating and lighting systems. Moreover, the hans inside the Market will be renovated and later additions will be demolished. This project should finally solve the big problems of the market: for example, in the whole Bazaar there is no proper toilet facility. Moreover, the lacks of controls in the past years allowed many dealers to remove columns and skive walls in their shops to gain space: This, together with the substitution of lead (stolen in the last years) with concrete on the market’s roof, has created a great hazard when the earthquake expected in Istanbul in the next years will occur.
The Grand Bazaar is opened each day except Sundays and bank holidays from 9:00 until 19:00.