Lonely Planet Writer

Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar will open on Sundays for the first time

Istanbul’s world-famous Grand Bazaar is set to open on Sundays for the first time.

The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul.
The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. Image by Getty Images

The Grand Bazaar is open every other day of the week, but its chairman Ahmet Kökler announced that tourists are keen to visit on Sundays too so the historical market’s approach to trading needs to change.

Entrance to Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.
Entrance to Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Image by Getty Images

He said that while authorities will do their best to promote shopping and tourist mobility in the market on Sundays, individual shopkeepers are free to keep their own desired trading hours, so establishing Sunday opening may take some time. Many shops currently close at 6pm even though the market is officially open until 7pm.

Old meets new: Pokemon Go player at Istanbul's Grand Bazaar.
Old meets new: Pokemon Go player at Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. Image by Getty Images

The colourful and chaotic Grand Bazaar is the heart of İstanbul’s Old City and has been so for centuries. Starting as a small vaulted bedesten (warehouse) built by order of Mehmet the Conqueror in 1461, it grew to cover a vast area as lanes between the bedesten, neighbouring shops and hans (caravanserais) were roofed and the market assumed the sprawling, labyrinthine form that it retains today. These days the market covers an area of 45,000 square metres, houses 3125 shops and employs 25,000 people.