About The Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar. .. It was one of the windows of my childhood, which opened to the world Going to the Grand Bazaar was kind of an awakening. The trips taken to the Bazaar by the groups of women of every age in our family and friends …. Their compellings to take me with them … I would get exhausted from watking from here to there for hours. If I hadn’t known that there was going to be an award for me at the end, I would have nın away but I could never give the award up. A slice of kadayif with heavy erearn on top from the Çukur Pudding Shop … lt was so delicious that one could not stop eating. And it would not finish easily anyway! The Grand Bazaar was built in the first years of the Ottoman period in İstanbul. . . It was first built as two stone buildings: Cevahir and Sandal Bedestans … Their construction had started right after the conquest. The purpose was to provide ineome to Hagia Sophia which was turned into a mosque. As soon as these two buildings were completed, the crowd they attracted formed the seed of a bazaar whose growth was unstoppable. The Bazaar, which today is around three hundred thousand square meters, used to be one third of its current size, but as the empire expanded and İstan­ bul developed as the capital city, the Grand Bazaar enlarged naturally. The bazaar around two bedestan buildings was first built of slovenly wooden materials, but then, it was built of stone walls. Nevertheless, as a result of the wooden roof, the building was constantly under threat in case of any fire. Until today, there had been a dozen fire incidents in the Grand Bazaar. The biggest disaster after the fires of 1546, 1618 and 1652 was the one in 1660. 1695 and 1701 had been the years of fires again. Supposedly, the lessons were taken from those fires. Instead of wooden roofs, stone vaults were built but this didn’t prevent the buildings from fire again.

The fire of 1750 brought another unknown disaster, the looting of the janissaries after the fire. The third disaster was the earthquakes. The most powerful one among the twelve earthquakes, which happened after the establishment of the Empire, was the earthquake of 1894. This earthquake destroyed a considerable part of the stone domes. During the reign of Abdülhamit II (1839-1861), the strengthening of the walls with steel beams turned out to be a useless intervention which in reality did not improve constructional safety at all. On the other hand, this intervention encouraged the storeowners to make changes in their stores which stili go on today. Each broken interior wall and each extended front made the buildings more powerless against the earthquakes. Restorations done after the big fina! fire of 1954 were finished in 1959 and the Bazaar was reopened in that year. Today, the appearance of the two sides of the bazaar, which are entirely covered with lighted, transperant panels, does not relate with its ancient architecture … What is not seen behind this corrupted apperance is the weakening of the walls because of the changes. Even if this was not the case, it is a reality that as the result of the eaıthquakes throughout the centuries, the buildings of the bazaar have dangerously weakened. The changes caused the buildings to become more delicare against the earthquakes. I hope that this reality will be taken into consideration and necessary precautions won’t be delayed.

Aydın Boysan 

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