Bazaars in Istanbul


The days in Istanbul in the middle of Sultanahmet They begin with that mystic call to prayer of all the mosques in the area at first hour of the morning. The alleys make their way between buildings without a specific order or style, showing a familiar facade. There it is, the largest in the world covered, full of life, of stands, of the daily routine for some and a moving environment for those who come from outside. The Grand Bazaar, one of the images we all carry in our heads when we hear the word Istanbul ... although for us it will be the Spice Bazaar, even more authentic. But today is a special night, 2012 ends and we welcome 2013, and we will do it far from home ...

The Sultanhamet area is much quieter first thing in the morning. This is how we see the last day the Blue Mosque, surely wrapped in the same halo of mystery and history that we saw the first night in Istanbul. Our area today takes another road, Divan Yolu street above, after throwing the postcards we wrote last night (15 TYR) and stopping at a few graves nearby. The city is full of them, famous sultans and other important characters. It would be impossible to "see them" at all, so turn now if you walk down the street next to the Nuruosmaniye Mosque


Today, within our objectives to see, divided by zones, we have covered the following (with the corresponding route):

- OLD ZONE. Sultanahmet Topkapi Santa Sofia Tank. Blue Mosque Sergio and Bacchus Church. Mehmet Pasha Arasta Bazaar. Racecourse. Divan Yolu ...
- NEW AREA. DolmabahçeTaskimIstikla Galata Tower, Galata Bridge. Eminonu ...
- BAZARES AREA. Vanide Han. Grand Bazaar. Egyptian bazaar. Suleymaniye Mosque. Rustem Pasha Mosque. New Mosque
- EXTERNAL AREAS. GOLDEN HORN AREA (Eyup, Pierre Lottie). FATIH NEIGHBORHOOD (San Salvador de Chora). ASIAN AREA (Uskudar)
- EXPERIENCES. Dervishes New Years Eve. Hammani Hookah. Which arises…

A labyrinth of streets reveals the day that awaits us, losses between agglomerations, shops of all kinds and, who knows, maybe some purchase. But our first destination we want to be something different, different, a place that emanates past smell, a karavanasarai, Valide Han, where we have come to ask for the name of the street (Cakmakcilar), because it is barely known.

We are entering A place forgotten in time and completely abandoned, an old trade center with a large central courtyard and where after a few turns, we find the stairs we are looking for.


We are in a location without tourist interest (that's why there is no one), which puts even a little scared through its abandoned halls and in complete gloom, where just a ray of sunshine reveals a corridor, but whose pieces fit with that Aleppo's karavanasarai (What will become of him now?) Called Khan Al Wazir, one of the many that existed, that we saw DAY 6 of the TRIP TO SYRIA 2009 In an unforgettable adventure.


Continuing towards the end of the hall, we can observe the old buildings around us by the small window-shaped holes, which can date from immemorial times.


!!We are lost!! We did not find the door we are looking for. There between darkness and silence someone stirs something. He is a man organizing what seems to be his warehouse (in Spain he would be considered a dump). Kindly indicates the end of the hall and accompanies us. Knock a door three times, where someone seems to live. A short, chubby man, who seems freshly out of bed, looks at us and nods. Take a key out of your pocket and open the lock of a large metal door, while lighting a light bulb held by wires. It is the climb to the roof. We have arrived


Although a little messy to locate, Valide Han (C) was a great center of Persian commerce and a resting place for caravans, on the old routes. Built in 1651 by the Sultan Kosem, it was the largest in Istanbul. Its roof, which can hardly stand the test of the years, has some of the best views from Fatih.


Like that day in Aleppo, we can imagine for a moment, alone, in complete silence, listening to the whisper of each vault or stone of this place, how these commercial stores worked near the great bazaars. Your merchandise, your caravans, smells and flavors ... but we can only do that. Imagine. Today, the image is much less eloquent (surely Juve and Ruth brings good memories)


In this case, it is the Grand Bazaar (D) the one that is a few meters away, and our next point of visit (but not before giving 5 TYR of propinilla to the man, who makes us the threat that is not necessary) the largest in Istanbul and seems to be one of the Great of the world.


More than 58 streets and 4000 stores, with all kinds of jewelry objects, carpets, hookah pieces, tea sets, lamps ... All covered, thanks to the construction of the 1461 of what would originally be the "silk bazaar" and which gradually extended to all kinds of valuable products


What do we think? That the story and what they can tell you is very beautiful, but that It lacks interest and attractiveness, beyond its own meaning and its building. We find a maremagnum of shopping streets, some with its shop window and everything, that one might well think of being in any other European city without these roots. For not entering the "bargaining", which although it is a cultural form of the bazaars, here gets its climax when they try to ask you! 85 and 95 Liras! for articles that you have seen these days in other places of the city for 30, trying to take advantage of "the name" and the "massive unloading of tourist buses" that come in every day eager to "burn" their money. An absolute disappointment.


But in a city of contrasts, where feelings change us as fast as the smells of its streets, leaving through one of the doors of the Bazaar, after just 40 or 50 minutes of unruly walks wanting to find a corner that would appeal to us, we found the steep Mahmutpaça street (E), and the multitude of perpendicular streets full of boutique shops.

We enter an area in the vicinity of the Grand Bazaar and to the Galata Bridge destination, where lThe shops are grouped in union plan. Making oligopolies should not be very easy here, when your neighbor and the five hundred next door sell the same as you, haha. There are areas of pasminas, areas of underwear, areas of sponges, areas of kitchen pots. Where the villager makes his life.


In general, a detail that differs a lot from other Islamic cities, is that here the Turk is a clean person, who does not like to see his dirty living areas, and tries to clean his shop, pour water to those public baths or take advantage of the business Shoe cleaning. This did not happen in Syria, or does not happen in Egypt, where mountains of garbage accumulate outside the main tourist areas.


At a certain moment, after taking an orange juice in a fruit stand for 2 TYR (we love these stands), almost by intuition we turn left and stop descending, to reach the area where we enjoy the Hamami in Suleymaniye yesterday. There, attached to the University (from where there is the photo that we took in a kind of viewpoint that can be accessed through a door) and at the top of the colony, exerts all its splendor Suleymaniye Mosque or Suleiman (F)

This is the second largest in Istanbul, and we already saw it yesterday illuminated from the modern end of the Galata Bridge. It was built under the mandate of Sultan Suleiman I "the magnificent" and opened in 1557 and his patio, like others before, falls in love again. It is not very busy at this time of the morning.


Another curiosity is that during World War I, the courtyard was used as a weapons warehouse. Inside we find again the beautiful vaults and tiles typical of the Ottoman baroque (and that this "Camii" suffered several fires and reconstructions over the centuries), as well as the lack of images and altar so characteristic of Islam.


But after the visit, and some gift in the stands (5 TYR), a place of those that really nobody should miss in Istanbul, we almost by chance in the north corner attached to the University with the Lale Bahçesi Rest, a small and picturesque inner courtyard full of little tables that acts as a "tea shop" and where you can smoke hookah. A couple of apple teas are not taken from us by anyone (3 TYR both), while we hear the call to prayer just begun.


After this parenthesis, we return again to the bustling streets of merchants, almost at the height of the Galata Bridge and the New Mosque that we saw yesterday. Have I heard hunger? !! Siiiiiiiiii !! The kebaps positions, every few steps, are other of those "must have" that we cannot miss. And everything must be said, although slightly different from what we are used to in Spain (with cheese and sauces), here it includes salad, tomato, fried potato, ground black pepper and chicken or veal meat, and they are ... !! DELICIOUSSSSS !! ! (and for only 5 TYR each)


With some odd neck of people accumulation, we have reached the main square in front of the New Mosque or Yuni Cami, where people walk, observe, eat chestnuts from the stands, and we finish our makeshift meal. Behind us an L-shaped building…


We do not know if by its building, another of those that emanate history, covered, and striking facade. Or if by its origin, of spice merchants from the East (hence its other name of Egyptian Bazaar), or who knows whether cereals in the Byzantine period. Or if for its colors and smells of species, coffee, typical cakes, soaps, olives, teas or fish. Or maybe a mix of all. He Spice Bazaar (G) It is everything we imagined and more. It's nice to get lost in its hustle (nothing to do with the grand bazaar)


His taste for the placement and order of things, his bright colors, his 270 meters in the form of L with 88 stores ...


And Paula's passion, teas of all kinds (we bring everyone, apple, love, lemon, roses and green, weight and vacuum for 35 TYR), soaps (as many for 20 TYR) and the odd ones thing.


But here you can find everything you thought you can't sell, from aphrodisiac products (with stores exclusively for them), sponges ...


... going on, here if, for real tea games really typical of the city

Of course you could not miss the typical sweets and a kind of sausages in giant longanizas plan (although where is our Iberian ham)


Although Isaac is spinning something and scary when plotting something. What will you look for? Caviar? Caviar in Istanbul? It seems that here you get the best in Europe, from Russia and Iran, but the vast majority is false, made from derived products. Will we be able to find it in the meantime stand?

(Continue on DAY 4 (II): New Year's Eve in Istanbul)