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Istanbul tour

Exploring the area of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul
By Seif Kamel 

Nothing in the world can be compared to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. These unique streets lined with several stores and booths which scent will always temp you and whose store owners and worker are restless in their quests to sell.  The Grand Bazaar is an important section of any Istanbul tour.

This Bazaar was actually established by Sultan Mohamed II, or the Mohamed the Conqueror, shortly after he entered Constantinople, which he named Istanbul afterwards in 1453.

There are two gateways to enter the Bazaar, one in the south and one in the north. Although there are many signposting along the Grand Bazaar, it would be easily to get lost in the many narrow lanes of the market. Many travelers coming to spend their Turkey Vacations would surly love to do some shopping in the Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar

This market that consists mainly of busy streets covered with thousands of shops and stores selling all sorts gifts and products. This market was established by Mohamed the conqueror in 1453 after he opened the city as the leader of the Ottoman armies.

The grand bazaar hosts numerous shops selling leather, traditional Turkish costumes, Turkish sweets and delights, ceramics, rugs and carpets, jewelry, and different types of gifts and souvenirs. The market has become one of the most important highlight of any trip to Turkey.

There are many landmarks inside the market like the marble fountain that once provided the bazaar with fresh water 300 years in the past. Many traditional cafes are spread all over the bazaar and they are the best resort for travelers after a remarkable walk in the market.  Many Istanbul holiday package include a marvelous tour of the market.

The Bazaar has many shops, cafes, restaurants, restrooms, and even a mosque. The most famous cafe in Grand Bazaar is the Sark Kahvesi, one of the most favorite traditional cafes in the city.  Many Turkey vacation packages would include a visit to the Grand Bazaar and the area around it.

The Suleymania Mosque

This is one of the most important and imposing mosques of Istanbul for both its influence and its marvelous architecture.  The mosque is visited by a large number of tourists going on Turkey private tours

The mosque was built over the ruins of the old palace, the Eski Saray, in the period between 1550 and 1557 and it was designed by the famous Sinan Pasha, the most skilful architect of the time who designed many of the remarkable mosques and structures of the period.

The Suleymania Mosque was not established as a worship place only but also as a complete charitable institution offering all sorts of services to the community. The mosque is surrounded with its former hospital, kitchens, school, and bath house.

This complex has offered a welfare system which provided food for over 1000 Muslims, Christians, and Jews all the same. Nowadays, the same as before many travelers from all over the world visit the mosque as part of their escorted tour to Turkey.

The ancient columns that surround the courtyard of the mosque were said that they were brought from the royal box at the hippodrome

The founder of the mosque, Suleiman Pasha, is buried inside it in his structure in a tomb decorated with marble and colored tiles.

The Tulip Mosque

This mosque was built in the period between 1759 and 1761 and it is the finest example of Baroque Style in Istanbul. The architect of the mosque, Mohamed, Tahir Agha, was actually an expert in this style of architecture.

All the surfaces of the mosque are covered with colored marble. Below the mosque, there is a great hall that is supported by eight huge columns and a foundation in the middle and it was used as a market with many clothes transported from Asia and Europe on display.

The Big Stone Han located near the mosque, which was actually a part of the original complex, now hosts a number of shops and cafes.

The Forum of Theodosius

Most of the ancient Byzantine city of Constantinople was built around wide public squares and the largest among them is nowadays located near the Grand Bazaar with the name Forum of Theodosius. 

The huge columns of the square still exist and they decorated with different motifs are striking. Some of these columns were reused in different places in the city like in the Basilica cistern and Beyazit Hamami, a historical Turkish bath in Istanbul.

Beyazit Square

This is one of the most popular and crowded sections of the old city of Istanbul. During the week the square is used to sell carpets and silks. There are a number of nice cafes located in the shade of the trees around the square. Many private Turkey tours would include a visit to the Square and the Grand Bazaar together.

In the northern section of the square, there is the Moorish gateway leading to the Istanbul University. There is also the Beyazit Tower, a marble fire watching station built in 1828 on the remains of the palace where Mohamed II once resided. One can climb the tower and have magnificent views of the city.

To the Eastern section of the square, there is the Beyazit Mosque which was built in 1506 and it is the most ancient surviving imperial mosque in Istanbul.

The mosque has a remarkable facade and a great courtyard. The interior design of the mosque was surly influenced by this of Hagia Sophia.

The Books Bazaar

Established on the ancient site of the Byzantine book and paper market, this book Bazaar is extremely charming. The market can be entered either from the Grand Bazaar or the Beyazit Square. Not to be compared to the Grand Bazaar which welcomes hundreds of travelers going on tours to Turkey everyday, the Books Bazaar still receives a number of tourists.

In the early days of the Ottoman Empire, books were viewed as tools of corruption and it was banned to sell books in Istanbul.  At the end of the year 1729, the first Turkish book, an Arabic directory, was actually produced

The Book Bazaar today sells all sorts of Turkish books ranging from Scientific, philosophy, arts, history, and practically everything. There are also some books in other languages as well.  

Corlulu Ali Pasha Courtyard

The same as many Madrasa in Istanbul, the Madrasa of this mosque has been transformed into a courtyard with a cafe. The complex was built for Corlulu Pasha, the son in law of Mustafa II, the Grand Vizier in the reign of Sultan Ahmed III.

Many shops sell Turkish rugs and carpets in the courtyard today. The carpet shops share the courtyard with a traditional cafe, with a nice teagarden, that is a famous avenue for students and locals.  The cafe is also an avenue that still attracts many travelers enjoying a private tour in Turkey as well.

Located nearby is the mausoleum and fountain of Coca Sinan Pasha is locate. Constructed in 1593 for the most famous and skilful architect of the Ottoman Empire.

To the other side, there is the Gedik Pasha Hamami, the oldest operating Turkish Bath in Istanbul. Built in 1457 for Gedik Ahmed Pasha, the Grand Vizier in the reign of Mohamed the conqueror

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