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Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar)

Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) has been a shopper's Mecca since just after the mid-15th century, when the smallish warehouse was turned into a teeming bazaar by a constant stream of traders, selling everything from carpets to cummin. These days it's the most fantastic, monstrous, labyrinthine and totally manic shopping bazaar you could hope to experience.

Tourist shops selling glittery geegaws line the main streets, but delve into the back streets and you'll still find Istanbullus buying a few metres of cloth, a gold bangle for a daughter's birthday, a beautifully crafted gold-plated 'eye' to ward off evil or an antique carpet. Before you visit, prepare yourself properly. Make sure you're in a good mood and energised, ready to swap friendly banter with the hundreds of shopkeepers who will attempt to lure you into their establishments. Finally, abandon this guide at your hotel and explore.

The confusing labyrinth of streets was originally named after the goods sold there (Mirror-makers St, Pearl Merchants St, Fez Makers St and so on), and although that's not necessarily the case today, it is still possible to buy precious gems, old coins and intricately crafted jewellery in Jewellers St. The Grand Bazaar is also renowned for offering basement-bargain deals on fur and leather goods, kilim products and a range of handcrafted goodies. Just remember to keep your wits about you.

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Kapalı Çarşı

Kapalı Çarşı (Grand Bazaar) has been a shopper's Mecca  ...