The Grand Bazaar And It’s History

14Mehmecl the Conqueror oı·clerecl to buiJel markets, inns, shops, Turkish baths, houses and mosques after he conquered İstanbul. (1) Coverecl bazaars which were built to sell cloths in the east and allocatecl for the trade of eveıy kinci of valuable goods la ter were cal! ed bedestans. One bedestan was built in Galata anel two were built in the city of İstanbul. “D1e bedestan that was built dose to the Old Palace by d1e commancl of Mebmecl d1e Conqueror was callecl inner beclestan or Cevahir Beclestan. A new coverecl bazaar d1at was built wid1in a litde clistance ti·om Cevahir Beclestan was mın1ecl Sandal Beclestan because a kinci of fabric called sandal woven by cotton anel silk was sold d1ere. Both beclestans show the structural characteristics of Mehmet the Conqueror era. The old beclestan, which is in the size of 28×36 meters, was built on four walls and eight elephant feet. Its top is coverecl by fifteen clomes in three rows. There useel to be twenty eight cellars anel many trunks unclerneath the shops which were calleel cabinets at that time. During the era of Mehmecl the Conqueror, there were a hunclrecl and twenty eight trunks or safes or cellars. A hLındrecl of these were separate w hile twenty eight were inside the shops. (2) Wealthy people or merchants of the past usecl to keep their valuable gold, silver goocls in those safety boxes with a small fee. (Forgotten goods anel belongings or with no inheritors were given to the National treasury. Mekkizade Mustafa Asım Efendi, one of the chief religious officials during Abelulmecit era, elieel in 1846 after he ımıele a huge fortune anel foıty thousancl bags full of money kept in the Bedestan were used to repair Hagia Sophia which was used as a mosque at that time.) (3) In Beelestan, there were jewelries, gold, weapons, valuable fabrics, shawls, furs, rugs, anel all kinels of precious goods that were collectecl from all over the world anel the Empire. The traelesmen here were the wealthiest traelesmen of the city. Thus, the Bazaar openeel Iate anel doseel early. Friclays were holiday. The fortune of the Empire was protectecl strictly in Beclestan. When Evli ya Çelebi talks about the honesty of bedestan guards in his famous “Book of Travels”, he says “They are such trustwoıthy people that if dıe cabinets were left open and many Egyptian treasures which only the God knows the amount of, jewelıy or precious items were all over the place, dıey woulcl never touch any of them.” Grand Bazaar has inner anel outer gates.

The oldesr known names of the gates on four sides of Old Bedestan are Sahaflar Gate, Takkeciler Gate, Zenneciler Gate, Kuyumcular Gate. Nicolas de Nicolay, who visitecl the Bedestan during the second half of the 16th centuıy, had written: “The place that is callecl Bedestan is a big, high anel square shaped covered hall. It has four gates anel the same number of streets. In both sides of these streets, jewelıy and all kinds of furs are solcl for such cheap prices; sametimes you can purchase a cloak macle of maıten by paying eighty or hundred ducats whereas you can not buy the same thing for more dıan three, four times in anather place. In addition to these, there are eveıy kinci of gold anel silver embroidered and silky fabrics, excellent morocco leathers, turquoise embroiclerecl belts, shields, daggers and other precious goods. Bedestan is open eveıyclay until noon except Fridays.” In d1e beginning of the 18th centuıy, a big and drastic reparation was macle in dıe Bedestan. Teurnefoıt who came to İstanbul at the time says that the reparation of Bedestan had been going on for four years, dıe clomes were completely being made of bricks and the buiJeling was going to be brighter man it used to be. He alsa mentions that d1e additions that were made inclucle new offices for the officers and d1e guards who watebeci over the Bazaar. In the midelle of the 18th century, after these reparations, a person nameel İnciciyan from İstanbul gives detailed information about İstanbul: “The place called Cevahir Bedestan is square shaped. In the surraunding stoı·es, owned by Turks, jewelry, embroidered Inciian silk anel other valuable items are being sold. Four iron gates of this bedestan are nameel after d1e auctions that take place in front of them.


The gate where the jewelıy aLıction takes place is called “Kuyumcular” (Jewelers); dıe one behind the book aLıction is ccılled “Kitapçılar” (Booksellers); anather one behind d1e ready-macle clothing aLıction is called “Oturakçılar” (Rug Makers/Sellers) and dıe gate where reacly-macle clothing is alsa being sold is nameel “Dolancılar”. First gate closes half an hour before sunset while others close in dıe aft:ernoon right after the auctions enel. The shops in the second beclestan which is called Sandal Bedestan are mostly owned by Latins and Greeks from Chios.” The Grand Bazaar had several restorations and after 1894 eaıthquake, drastic reparations were made. During these reparations, the Bazaar was minimizeel by removing some of the sections. Çadırcılar and Kürkçüler gates were removed; Dua and Bat markets, Yorgan and Koltukçular gates which used to be inner Gates were turned into outer gates. Lütfuilah Street was completely destı·oyed and Lütfuilah gate was closecl. Sarnıçlı Inn, Paçavracı Inn and Ali Paşa Camii Inn  that used to be located inside of the Bazaar, were left outside. Apan of Yolgeçen Inn was also left outside. (6) With several of its buildings, avenues, streets and courts, the Grand Bazaar looks !ike a city. Main streets of the Bazaar are fonned by Çadırcılar, Yorgancılar, Fesçiler, Kalpakçılar, Keseciler, Takkeciler, Kuyumcular and Çarşıkapı­ Nuruosmaniye Streets. Some of the other streets inside the Bazaar are nameel as Kavaflar, Basmacılar, Sandal Bedestani, Muhafazacılar, Aynacılar ete.

Beginning from the second half of the 19th century, the impoıt of the European fabrics to our countıy, interrupted the trade of our hand woven local fabrics, fı.ııthermores newly opened banks brought Bedestan’s baking services to an end. In those conclitions, Bedestan was content with selling jewelry, rugs and antiques; Sandal Beclestan was doseel and in 1914 this place was purchased by İstanbul City Hall and turned into a public aLıction area. Before the unfortunate fire of 1954, the Grand Bazaar had anather disaster of fire on October 9th, 1943 and that time, along with Yanıntaş Inn, Yeşiltulumba, Mütevelli, Sanhasan, Y eşi! direk, Ağahan, Cübbeci Streets, Alipaşa Inn bumeel down. The Grand Bazaar was the most colorful and beautiful exposition of our social life of five centuries. Centuries’ taste, fomıne and glory were seen in those streets and shops. Old locals of İstanbul wandered araund the “Atik” and “Cedicl” Bedestans with their colorful clothings, in addition to their grief and enthusiasm. The Grand Bazaar, which reflected our lives in eveıy period of time, was perpetuated just !ike the Arabian Nights in the books of itinerants and in the brush strokes of foreign artists.

Haluk Y. Şahsuvaroğlu

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