Lonely Planet Writer

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar to undergo million-dollar makeover

Istanbul’s historic Grand Bazaar, a major tourist attraction in the Turkish city, is set to undergo renovations that will last a decade and cost millions of dollars.

Entrance to Grand Bazaar.
Entrance to Grand Bazaar. Image by Ampai Jangbumrung

The beautiful bazaar has stood in Istanbul’s Old City for centuries, beginning as a small warehouse in the 1400s. It has since grown into a large labyrinth with covered laneways and plenty of stalls that keep travellers wandering for hours. The bazaar is a top tourist attraction and saw more than 90 million visitors in 2013. The bazaar covers 31,000-square-metres and has about 3,000 shops.

Istanbul Grand Bazaar.
Istanbul Grand Bazaar. Image by Justin Schier / CC BY 2.0

There have been plans for the restoration of the bazaar, one of the world’s oldest covered markets, for years, but now work is set to begin and the structure will undergo renovations in order to increase its structural integrity. The Hurriyet Daily News reports that the bazaar is built on a hill and the soil is permeated with water, so engineers will build tunnels in order to allow water to drain off and to stabilise the building.

Instruments at the Grand Bazaar
Instruments at the Grand Bazaar Image by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / CC BY 2.0

Many of the owners of the many shops in the bazaar feel there needs to be renovations, due to issues such as leaks. However, some vendors worry that their rent could increase following the repairs, reports Hurriyet Daily News, potentially driving them out of the historic centre.

Detail of a shop at the Grand Bazaar
Detail of a shop at the Grand Bazaar Image by Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / CC BY 2.0

Since talk of the repairs began, the idea has been controversial. In April 2015, several shop owners were evicted from the bazaar after they refused to leave their shops while protesting the renovation plans, saying they were not consulted. In May, about 80 tenants in the bazaar’s textiles market were evicted to allow for renovations.

The bazaar will remain open to tourists as the work will be done section by section, reports Ansa Med.

Read more: Shop owners forced out of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar

Bazaar renovations threaten Istanbul heritage