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Everything the heart desires

The Sultan's City: The Grand Bazaar

From Iznik to Armani, objets d’art to handloomed carpets: the choice is yours

  • The timeless Zincirlihan, home of the carpet dealer Şişko Osman

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a covered box (“kapalıçarşı kapalı kutu”), the poet Orhan Veli said. Lift the lid and all manner of goodies come tumbling out: colourful, joyful, decorative. As you enter, no matter who you are, a childlike mood comes over you. Everyone can find some reward among the endless jewels, bolts of cloth, silken scarves, pashmina throws, merchandise from every corner of the world. It helps, though, to have an eye, to sort the elegant from the trash and kitsch, the belly dancers’ costumes, football shirts and Lacoste knockoffs. Here is a rainbow of Iznik tiles, collectable and decorative; there, glittering lanterns. Stacked alongside the latest offerings from Gucci, Armani and Chanel are handmade leather Yemeni slippers. Leather is everywhere – in smart shoes, jackets, handbags, briefcases, belts – and the quality seems to grow ever better, but it takes confidence to spot the wearable. Interesting leather shops crowd in on the old Havuzlu Lokantası, the Restaurant with the Pool. There are inlaid backgammon boards, onyx chess sets, strings of pearls, meerschaum – some items traditional, others new.  At either end of the Grand Bazaar (also known as the Covered Bazaar), fortress-like gates lead into the main street, a barrel-vaulted treasure trove glittering with goldsmiths’ shops, that extends all the way from the Beyazıt Gate in the west, next to the shady book bazaar, to the Nuruosmaniye Gate in the east, with its colossal Baroque mosque. Off to the north, streets branch down the hill towards Eminönü, in a labyrinth of specialist quarters, of carpets, silver, fabrics…  Clusters of han courtyards extend well beyond the bazaar confines, full of curious architectural detail and wonderful to explore. Together they become a maze, built up layer upon layer over the centuries as shops, workshops and entire trades were added. In a city where so much is changing, it is a relief to find old friends still prospering in this enduring place…

To read the full article, purchase Issue 50

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Issue 50, Autumn 2013 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Sultan’s City
£15.00 / $19.16 / €17.75
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 50
  • From Palace to Bazaar

    Take in the Topkapı, where the sultans held sway in secluded grandeur. Saunter round Sultanahmet and the Hippodrome: make the most of the mosques, monuments and museums. Get the buzz of the bazaar: where to snap up covetable collectables and cheerful bargains

  • Urns to yearn for

    Deep in the industrial outskirts of Istanbul, Griselda Warr enters an Aladdin’s cave of Anatolian treasures. Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • Magic Movements

    AyşeDeniz Gökçin’s musical creations combine the rock-star appeal of Franz Liszt and the psychedelic/progressive brilliance of the band Pink Floyd. Tony Barrell found this prodigiously talented young pianist a force to be reckoned with. Photograph by Charles Hopkinson

  • A devilishly fine juicer

    John Carswell solves the mystery of the ‘lemon squeezer’ that wasn’t

  • The Best of a Classy Bunch

    In a decade of monitoring Turkey’s burgeoning wine industry, Kevin Gould has never been more impressed. He and the Cornucopia tasting team enthusiastically sampled this year’s top bottles and nominated their favourites

  • Horn of Plenty

    It is a joy to explore. New universities, a new museum, and a growing band of new aficionados who have invested modest means in old houses, have created a wonderful sense of optimism. But the ancient waterfront is in the eye of the storm, with many quarters due to be bulldozed and the threat of a hideous new marina. Enjoy it while you can

  • Full Steam Ahead

    Give yourself over to the grit and bustle of Eminönü’s waterside markets, then ascend to Sinan’s sublime hilltop mosques – the awesome Süleymaniye and the haunting Şehzade. In their shadow is the exuberantly tiles Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Cornucopia devotes 24 pages to this vibrant area, with features on Eminönü and the Suleymaniye district with photographs by Jürgen Frank, and a guide to the mosques beautifully depicted by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • The Mirrored Pavilion

    Hidden away in one of Istanbul’s least prepossessing neighbourhoods is a walled garden surrounding a dream of a kiosk – a favourite of many sultans.

  • Stony Heart of Empire

    Within the deepest reaches of the palace lies the very seat of the sultans’ power

  • A City of Secret Gardens

    When David Wheeler set out to satisfy his craving to explore Turkish gardens, he was guided by a diverse cast of committed Istanbul citizens. What he discovered were myriad horticultural havens, from Byzantine market gardens to Ottoman cemeteries – many of them under imminent threat.
    SPECIAL OFFER: order five beautiful garden-themed issues, including this one, for only £80. List price £122

  • Austerity and awe

    In his 40-year career, Sinan (1489–1588) transformed the Istanbul skyline. Here we explore three of the chief imperial architect’s masterpieces from the golden age of Süleyman the Magnificent. Photographs by Fritz von der Schulenburg

  • Terrifying Beauty

    Justinian’s soaring edifice inspires the same awe today as it did in visitors a millennium ago who wondered if this were Heaven or Earth. Setting out on a tour of the city’s best-preserved Byzantine churches, Robert Ousterhout still senses an air of the miraculous in Ayasofya

  • Decked in Splendour

    The long-awaited Naval Museum has many wonders to reveal, but nothing to compare with the fabulously ornate imperial barges

  • Bean vivant

    From a trusty staple to the stuff of feasts, beans are at the very heart of Turkish cuisine. How did we ever live without them?

  • Byzantium’s Legacy

    In a vivid, impressionistic portrait of the Byzantine city, Robert Ousterhout uncovers the history of Byzantium in ten objects, explores the soaring edifice of Ayasofya and picks four of the city’s most inspiring smaller churches.

Good places to stay
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Issue 50, Autumn 2013 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Sultan’s City
£15.00 / $19.16 / 618.95 TL
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