The Grand Bazaar Is Searching For Its Future

The brochure that was prepared for the conference Calling İstanbul the most beautiful city of the world would not be an exaggeration. It is a city that does not only unite two continents, but has brought the whole world together throughout the history. The mirror of a city is its Bazaar. As you sit in front of any store of d1e Bazaar, the whole city flaws !ike a river before your eyes. The Bazaar of İstanbul is the Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar was oıiginally built by Mehmed the Conqueror first as Cevahir bedestan, later Sandal bedestan was added. In time, the Bazaar was expanded with the construction of new buildings around. *The Grand Bazaar is the oldest and biggest market of the world.

*The Grand Bazaar is the first bank of the world. The safe deposit boxes located in Bedestan were the safest place to keep the wealth. *Once, the Grand Bazaar was the center of antiguarian booksellers. Priceless manuscripts and gravures that were brought by janissaries to the countıy had spread around the globe from the Grand Bazaar. *It is the center for world peace. It is the origin of tolerance. It is place where people of different origins, religions and ethnicities have been trading for five hundred forty seven years. *The Grand Bazaar is the cultural center of the world since it contains all these cultures and goods. *The Grand Bazaar is a world brand. It is the first place to visit for presidents, artists, kings and every foreigner who come to Turkey.

*It is the last stop of the Silk Road and its door that opens to the world. It has always kept its characteristic of being the world trade center. *It is the center of culture and antiques. The origin of many important pieces in various world famous museums and libraries is the Grand Bazaar. Today, the Grand Bazaar is the most meaningful display case of  Turkey. The first target of Turkey’s enemies has always been the Grand Bazaar. It is also the heart of the currency and gold market. It is the most important tool that shapes the world economy. It is the heart and the center of attraction of tourism. It is the seeret hero of exportation. Above all, it is the only place where d1e Ottoman culture is kept alive along with Republic principals. So, what is the current state of this national treasure about which we briefly talked?  Compared to the value it adds to the national economy, the services that it receives from state institutions are too little.

While the Republic was being established, even tough special laws (associations, unions, federations, ete … ) regarding tradesmen were passed, the special status of the Grand Bazaar was neglected. Since the guilds were annulled, and forgotten during the period of the Republic as well, the Grand Bazaar lacks an official and legitimate management since 1913. Without any money or official authority, Tradesmen Associations have kept their position and the traditions, which are strengthened from the history, and tried to solve all the problems of this huge Bazaar by themselves. In brief, the Grand Bazaar that contains three thousand six hundred stores does not have an official management organization.

1-) Cleaning services are provided by the members of the association. However, the city collects the trash taxes.

2-) Roads of the Grand Bazaar are covered with asphalt and full of holes. Carcinogenic effect of the asphalt in indoor places was not calculated. Anywhere in the country it is the city’s responsibility to take care of the roads. In the Grand Bazaar however, the tradesmen built the roads with their own efforts. Some of the pioneering administrators of the assodation had to stand trial in the high criminal court for ham1ing the histarical (!) asphalt, while the city keeps collecting the property taxes.

3-) Infrastructure has always been a problem for the Grand Bazaar. Most of the canals remain from the times of Mehmet the Conqueror. Especially, after the 1894 earthquake, some areas had collapsed and the water found its way to leak to the foundation.

4-) Anywhere else in the countıy, lightening of the roads is under d1e responsibility of the government’s electricity administration and the city. In the Grand Bazaar, the assodation was sued by the govemrnent for lightening the Bazaar’s streets. The cables that were moved under ground in 1983 pose danger since they lie right next to the sewer and water channels.

5-) The Bazaar is under the responsibility of High Council of Immovable Monuments and Antiquities. But, the state of its roof is worse than a shanty’s. Due to the use of wrong and low quality materials, the weight of the roof had tripled. T11e water tanks and generators on the roof make the pressure even harder. Since the leads were removed and replaced with crummy day tiles, the water leaks through the columns and creates smail rivers inside the Bazaar eveıytiıne it rains. The heads of the columns can blow up !ike a bomb anytime.

6-) Due to lack of a modern ventilation system and the fact that the past order is ruined, ventilation is a notable problem. The dust spackles in the air are being breathed during the day because of that matter.

7-) Base stations and electric transformers badly effects human health because of the hazardous rays they spread.

8-) Transportation had turned out to be a complete chaos. As a result of the wrong policies applied in previous years, The Grand Bazaar became an unreachable Bazaar today. The visitors, who could overcome the traffic problem, stopped coming to the Bazaar because of the problem of finding a parking space. This unreachable Bazaar have turned into a big ball of problems.

9-) Since environment planning was not done, the walls of the Bazaar became completely invisible today. Due to the illegal constructions that enciı·cle the Bazaar, Bazaar cannot breathe anymore.

10-) Illegal taxi stops and taxis have always been a subject to many complaints but a solution to that problem hasn’t been found so far.

ll-) Inns are left to their destiny. There are stil! some decayed and demolisbed inns. It is almost impossible to understand why the decayed inns at the center of the Bazaar are left neglected.

12-) There is stili a security problem. TI1e cuırent security company and its equipments are obviously msuffıcient.Peddlers stili contiı1ue to borher the tradesmen as well as customers.

13-) The restrooms are inadequate and out of date.

14-) Productive craftsmen are left to their destiny. Many professions, after which streets were named, had  dissappeared

15-) The cables cover the roof and the ceilings !ike spider webs.

16-) The Grand Bazaar, which had been a source to various world museums, neither has a museum of its own nor an archive.

17-) It is hard to explain the blackouts in the 21st century, especially if it occurs in the Grand Bazaar, a place that is of great iınportance for the national economy. It is also shocking to see that the Bazaar does not have a modern generator system.

18-) As we said, the Bazaar is the min-or of a city. The quality problem of the Bazaar must be solved. The production of quality goods must be supported. Handcrafts should be protected and souvenir industry should be developed.

19-) During the Ottoman Empire, the Bazaar had its own school and library.The people of the Grand Bazaar, who speak a few different languages, must be suppoıted and encouraged by educational couı·ses.

20-) And the most impoıtant of all is the ethical corruption of the Grand Bazaar which is left to its destiny in the middle of all these problems. The Grand Bazaar is a world brand. If the products of the Bazaar are intruduced to the world market under the name of this big brand, it would be easier to seize a place. For this reason, legal arrangements must bemade in1mediately, and the Grand Bazaar and surroundings must have an official management. We, as the tradesmen of the Grand Bazaar, are ready to solve all these problems. Perhaps, there is not an example of these solution formulas in the world, but it must be remembered that there is not an example of the Grand Bazaar, either. If the Congress passes a management organizaton act, we can solve all of our problems, and do our own marketing with our managernem organization. The methods of shopping tourism can be easily applied to the Grand Bazaar. The significant change that will occur when we replace illegal constructions with boutique hotels, entertainment centers, cultural activities and park- ing garages will immediately reflect to İstanbul. This iınprovement will not only make its presence felt in the national economy but in our neighbors’ as well. For Turkey and the neighbor countries, The Grand Bazaar is a gate which opens to the world. The Grand Bazaar is larger than most cities with its sixty two roads, sixteen inns, one mosque, two masjids, twenty two gates and nearly twenty five thousand people who earn their livings from here. Depending on the season, the number of the visitors reach up to two hundred and fifty thousand to four hundred thousand, which is a higher number than many of the European cities’ populations. If the Bazaar is authorized and budgetized with a democratic, transparent and controllable management system, it might be a model structure to the world with its professional staff. A place for international festivals, auctions, concerts and exhibitions … The last stop of conventional tourism. .. A center for the world stock market .. . A meeting place of cultures, religions and different colors .. . The mirror of the history… With its histarical and cultural wealth, the Grand Bazaar is not only ours but also the world’s heritage.




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