Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı), Istanbul
Concierge.com's insider take:
Depending on your shopping style, Istanbul's Grand Bazaar is either an abundant paradise or a convoluted, serpentine nightmare of sensory overload. Either way, it's the quintessential venue for all of your indigenous souvenir needs. The numerous covered alleys of this huge indoor complex, which dates back more than 500 years, house over 4,000 shops and stalls that sell everything from carpets, fabrics, crockery, and leather to jewelry, hammam goods, and Turkish delight. Haggling over prices with the spectacularly multilingual store owners is par for the course, as is getting hopelessly lost and staggering out with copious shopping bags. Be sure to try and find the Old Bedesten in the center of the Bazaar, a walled-in section with huge iron doors that was actually the original marketplace building in the time of Mehmet the Conqueror (that is, the mid-1400s) and is now home to a great deal of antique bric-a-brac. It's also worth poking around the peripheries of the bazaar: Little side alleys and hidden courtyards house many interesting stores, whose prices tend to be lower than those located along the central thoroughfares. Highlights include Abdulla for textiles and soaps, and Şişko Osman for handmade rugs and kilims, many of them vintage Anatolian specimens given as dowries (15 Zincirli Han; 90-212-528-3548; www.siskoosman.com).
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