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The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul, more than five centuries of history

on 28/05/2012

Trade had an important place in the Ottoman economy and shortly after the conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II built in the heart of the city covered two markets – The Bedestens – which will be the precursors of the Grand Bazaar today.
The first called Cevahir Bedesten, or Bedesten of Jewelry Makers, with an area of ​​14,380 sq. Ft., and it is accessible by four huge doors.
Evliya Çelebi, the most famous traveler of the Ottoman Empire, wrote: “The great treasure of the Ottomans is kept in a well chosen place in Istanbul. The goods to be send are kept behind heavy iron doors that overlook the many underground reserves.”
The second indoor market which has twenty domes is named Sandal Bedesten – the name of a particular pattern fabric manufactured in the city of Bursa – in this one, slave trade was practiced  until 1846 …
All around the complex, shops and boutiques clump gradually forming a set of streets sheltered by canvas first and then replaced by a stone structure. The bedestens are adorned with bricks still visible today.
A city within a city was born and grow up! The Kapali Carsi (Grand Bazaar) has lived and transformed by earthquakes and fires. In the late nineteenth century, it is not less than 4000 shops and workshops around 2200 which are spread over an area of ​​nearly 31 hectares … in sixty streets accessible through 19 gates.
Gold and silver are made into jewelry and objects of desire. Silks, luxurious fabrics and carpets values ​​are offered to shoppers.
Three dozen of the 150 hans built between the conquest of Constantinople and the nineteenth century and are intended primarily to house the goods, carpets in the deep narrow passages of this huge indoor market which is one of the largest in the world .
Of the items traded in this extraordinary universe, often behind the scenes, gold is undoubtedly the king. One third of the 260,000 people who live of this precious metal have set up shops at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul …
Many artisans work on the silver as well. Tiny string of finely chopped flat through delicate objects for decorating tables and furniture, the “gray gold” is found in every corner.
The Grand Bazaar is annually visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists, but most do see only a very distorted image, far from the truth of this temple of business where you have to push the door ajar to discover wht is really inside…


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