The Change Of The Grand Bazaar

If I array some numbers in an order, I wonder, what would they teli you? 3300 shops, 65 streets, 14 active inrıs, 18 gates which open to 4 directions, 20 thousand workers, 100 thousand suppliers, an average of  300 thousand customers or visitors a day. Y es, here is the Grand Bazaar in Beyazıt, the historical peninsula of İstan­ bul. For over five centuries, d1e central bazaar of İstanbul is operating. It is the world’s biggest living bazaar. The bedestan is the first ‘official’ bank of the Anarolian lands. Today, it is the center of gold and cunency exchange of Turkey. What is interesting is the !ega! position of this place. This world’s the most meaningful old city bazaar doesn’t belong to anywhere. It is only entrusted to the Council of Protection of Cultural and  Natural Assets in order not to be destroyed or such.

In my opinion, the change in the Grand Bazaar has started with the management team of well educated/ experienced people. During the elections last year, Dr. Hasan Fırat and his friends prornised “change and a legal management structure”. After they were elected, they dicl an irnpoıtant job. They discussed this issue together with the people and other organzations. They were partıcıpative. The Ministıy of Culture perceived the situation. Assistant secretary Prof. Dr. İsen said; “We are deterrnined to tum this place into one of Turkey’ s favorite  places”. Also, he decided to make this change happen step by step for a fair coordination. İstanbul Province Director of Culture, Associate Professor Ahmet Bilgili, was charged with this duty especially. The change didn’t end with this. An interesting thing happened. İstanbul Revenue Office invited the tradesmen, whom “did not look pretty in front of taxation”, to renew their accounts. While the 2003 index was 100, the next year it became 294. I thinkan impoıtant lesson was given to the people who want to participate in the change of Turkey: “Those, who paıticipate and live, must pay!”


What does the Grand Bazaar look for at the end? On behalf of the Association, the draft of “The Grand Bazaar Management Organization Law” is ready. The vice chairman of the Association, Anila Özbey, gave the fina! shape to the plan. The plan is looking for authorization roughly in three subjects: The right to erninent domain. The right to demand opening projeers from the new shops. The right to hinder excessive spaces that are not in need. They give an iateresting example to those who think that the request of these special regulations is too much. Last year, at the time of NATO summit, the state wants them to build a “VIP WC”. In a big hurry, they present the project to the related board. 8 months passes from time of the sumrnit and there is stili no “approval”. I did some research in this matter. The fina! point that Turkey has reached in terms of space arrangement is ‘propeıty ownership law’. When the number of conunon living areas exceeds 30-40, there quickly begins an intersection of laws. No one krıows which law becomes prominent. Furtherrnore, none of d1e laws can make arrangements or bring anendance. Look at the practices that are done after 60′ies in Turkey on smail industrial complexes anel organized industrial districts. They were all “managed” with rules full of custody with the exception of one or two.

The first exception was the arrangements in İstiklal Avenue done by the Association of Beautification in Beyoğlu, in the leadership of Vitali Hakko, the founder of Vakko. The second one was the Osmanbey renewal project by the outfiners. Perhaps, we can acid the arrangement of French Street in Galatasaray to these. Apart from these, all those big common property bazaars/malls are managed by special juristic ıules. Everyone only krıows the fees they will pay. For this reason, I suppose that this kind of a legal arrangement will be meaningful in the sense that it is a first in Turkey. There are encouraging world examples. The management application of the Tower of Pisa in Italy and Rhodes old dty bazaar’s organization are just the two of them. Also, there are those autocratic organizations that say “built/destroy”. I saw its last example in the Aleppo Bazaar. As the bazaar was being renewed from top to bottom, no one knew the exact reason of the renovations. The same understanding of management is valid for the Casabianca and Rabat Bazaars in Morocco. They get managed well just because the king wants so. Since we can’t expect a “sultan management” in Turkey anymore, a place based management will be “the obligatory condition”. Perhaps then, we can also find a place for Galata Tower, one of the images of the city that has being ignored for 40 years. At this weekend, on February 11-12, the Grand Bazaar’s Search Conference will take place. 30 to 35 people will discuss about the future of the Bazaar. Further than discussing, they will try to make the Bazaar find its own place.

The goal is to find out the “effect focuses”, in order to be the ‘brand trade center’. In short, “tools” are being searched. The search of the Grand Bazaar, which is the most meaningful one among the thousand bazaars  agoras/meses/souks that were built in Anatolia throughout the history, looks !ike the search of Turkey, which tries to renew itself. As we say yes to the new and change, we see the deficiency of the current mind and its capability of understanding, along with the shallowness of the discussion environments in the renewal. The tradesmen of the Grand Bazaar Assodation is in an approach that is worthy of congratulations. It discusses the subject together with its four thousand members and Turkey in a transparent way. In this way, it says that the change is only possible with attendance. It is nice to see the current partidpation of places to the renewal projects just !ike the renewals of foundations/companys/cities in recent years. This renewal caıTies the meaning of purification as well. A purification that reckons with the past. For the last eighty years we have a tradesmen-craftsmenship order which we couldn’t fınd a place for. The question is clear: Are tradesman and craftsman, stagnant and tradition, things that come to an end with changes? Or are they the re-discoveries of the 21st centuıy with their spedalties? If we look at the tendendes in the world, the second question becomes prominent. But, an assumption, that is not proven, is not valid. In orde r to express this in Turkey, this conference is an ideal environment. Let’s see what the outcomes will say instead of the judgments.

Kenan Mortan

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