The Grand Bazaar (Turkish: Kapalıçarşı, meaning ‘Covered Market’; also Büyük Çarşı, meaning ‘Grand Market’) in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shops on a total area of 30,700 m2, attracting between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed No.1 among the world’s most-visited tourist attractions with 91,250,000 annual visitors. The Grand Bazaar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.
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).
Until the restoration following the quake of 1894, the Grand Bazaar had no shops as found in the western world: along both sides of the roads merchants sat on wooden divans in front of their shelves. Each of them occupied a space 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 m) in width, and 3 to 4 feet (0.91 to 1.22 m) in depth. This was named in Turkish dolap, meaning ‘stall’. The most precious merchandise was not on display, but kept in cabinets. Only clothes were hung in long rows, with a picturesque effect. A prospective client could sit in front of the dealer, talk with him and drink a tea or a Turkish coffee, in a relaxed way. At the end of the day, each stall was closed with drapes. Another peculiarity was the complete lack of advertising. Moreover, as everywhere in the East, traders of the same type of goods were forcibly concentrated along one road, which got its name from their profession. The Inner Bedesten hosted the most precious wares: jewelers, armourers, crystal dealers had their shops there. The Sandal Bedesten was mainly the center of the silk trade, but also other goods were on sale there. The most picturesque parts of the market were – apart from the two Bedestens – the shoe market (Turkish: Pabuççular Pazarı), where thousands of shoes of different colors (Ottoman sumptuary laws prescribed yellow shoes for Muslims, blue for Greek Orthodox, black for Jews and red for Armenians) were on display on high shelves; the spice and herbs market (later concentrated in the Egyptian Bazaar), which stood near the jewelers; the armour and weapon market; the old book market; and the flea market.