History’s Oldest Shopping Mall Remains One of the World’s Most Visited Attractions

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey is a place with a rich and extensive past. Widely considered to be history's oldest shopping mall, it occupies 61 covered streets and contains over 3,000 independent vendors that sell everything from carpet to jewelry to spices to souvenirs. Its beginnings date back to the mid 15th century, when Sultan Mehmet II commissioned it shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. Today, the Grand Bazaar remains incredibly popular–in 2014, it was the most visited tourist attraction in the world and boasted over 91 million annual shoppers.

The Bazaar as we know it came together organically over time. When it first opened, it traded only in textiles and was called Cevhir Bedestan, or Bedesten of Gems. After a place known as the Sandal Bedesten was erected nearby, the fabric businesses moved there, and the Cevhir Bedestan was reserved for luxury goods. Between the two buildings, however, many sellers opened their own shops, eventually establishing a quarter devoted to commerce. By the beginning of the 1600s, the building had reached its current form.

Modern-day visitors to the massive market are among more than 250,000 daily shoppers. Wares are housed in small stalls and grouped together based on what they sell. Prices for these items are rarely fixed, so it's a haven for hagglers. To get a sense of the Bazaar, check out the photos, below.

Above photo credit: Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Fedor Selivanov

Photo credit: Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: CamelKW

Photo credit: Luciano Mortula / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Alexander Tolstykh / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: saiko3p / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: edella / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: mffoto / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Faraways / Shutterstock.com

Photo credit: Mikael Damkier / Shutterstock.com

Grand Bazaar: Website
via [Amusing Planet, Mashable]

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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