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Market Madness

Coen van Wyk

Posted on May 26, 2019 05:15

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Markets are an integral part of modern economies. It can be said that the development of markets influenced the development of modern civilization. So, what about a visit to one of the oldest markets known to (wo)man? The Grand Bazaar of Istanbul is built on a tradition of thousands of years.

Istanbul has a history of human settlement going back five thousand years. At the crossroads of east and west, north and south, traders met sonce before the Greeks settled here. The Romans developed this city as an important link with Asia, and Emperor Constantine made his capital here. There has been markets since time immemorial here, and shortly after the Ottoman conquest, Sultan Mehmet II had a building erected for trading of textiles between the slave market and many caravanserai or resting places for long distance traders. European travelers tell of 67 roads, 5 mosques, 7 fountains and 18 gates to the market complex.

Enter at own risk!

Visitors today can sense the deep tradition, the stability the merchant’s guilds and imperial edicts provided in a turbulent world. You see opulent jewelry exhibited openly, brides trying on gold dowries, interior decorators selecting hand-crafted ceramics from Iznik.

Does that go with...

The Grand Bazaar is a ‘must go’ point for us. Jewelers abound, rubbing shoulders with sellers of calligraphy and leatherware. There are spice shops to outfit entire restaurants, with saffron from Iran and Jordan, pink and black salt from the Himalayas, pepper from Anatolia, and spice mix from Cappadocia.

Just one corner


Here you can lament transport costs as you admire tiles and other decorative ceramics from Iznik, made of glass powder and clay to designs commissioned by Sultans. You can taste almonds, pistachios, cashews and walnuts from Afghanistan and Isfahan, and buy tea from in China, India and further afield, or you can indulge in specialized flower and fruit teas from the Turkish menu. We bought enough apple tea to make customs officers suspicious.

Teas to dream of.


Antiques hide in small shops, where you could furnish pyramids, movie sets and private dens with suits of Roman armour, spears and bronze swords, doorstops, intricately shaped brass door handles and arcane decorations. Rugs are on offer, and I was assured that they carry the genuine flying carpets as well, if you have the magic spell to make them fly.

Pilot's license?


And then there is the famous baklava, the Turkish delight, and other sweets in amazing variety. Nougat and Halva are famous. 

Goodbye diets! This shop is outside the Bazaar


Allow ample time to visit and re-visit. But also consider the political implications of a tradition, a body of traders stretching back into history, on the development of firstly the Ottoman empire, but also the modern Turkey. Sipping a glass of red apple tea you can contemplate how the traders would react to political instability and trade wars. Then, refreshed, you can seek out that elusive piece of ceramic and patterned cloth that will make someone special’s eyes sparkle.

Has the credit card cooled down yet?
Coen van Wyk

Posted on May 26, 2019 05:15

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Source: Politico

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