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Traditional Shopping Centers

Many international shoppers are looking for shopping experiences that are different from their home environment (Yuksel 2004), often with a unique identity (Spierings and van Houtum 2008), yet not too different, so as to avoid culture shock (Spierings and van der Velde 2013; Basala and Klenosky 2001). While malls and other modern retail venues become more popular each day, Turkey still has a great number of traditional markets where an important segment of the local population is shopping for the necessities. Some of these bazaars, especially those of historical and cultural value, have also become major tourist attractions (see Fig. 13.1).

The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul was set up shortly after the Ottomans conquered Constantinople, in the fifteenth century, and enlarged during the reign of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, in the sixteenth century. Following a major earthquake that hit Istanbul at the end of the nineteenth century, the historical bazaar had to undergo major restoration work. Today, Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is one of the world’s largest covered markets, with 60 streets and more than 5000 shops. A plethora of goods are sold in the bazaar, but tourists are mainly attracted by jewelry shops, carpets and embroideries, as well as hand-painted ceramics or other antique shops. Between 250,000 and 400,000 people visit the bazaar every day, many of them tourists (Perdomo 2014). One of our previous studies has shown that

Traditional Markets in Turkey and Central Istanbul (in medallion)

Fig. 13.1 Traditional Markets in Turkey and Central Istanbul (in medallion)

tourists are generally satisfied with their experiences in this historical shopping complex, although they have complained about the high prices, the quality, and the authenticity of some products, as well as about the excessive attention of shopkeepers toward their customers (Egresi 2015a).

The Spice Bazaar (or the Egyptian Bazaar, as it is known in Turkish) is situated in Eminonfi, at the entrance of the Golden Horn, not far from the Grand Bazaar. It specializes in selling spices, Turkish sweets, medicinal plants, and different types of herbs. With 86 shops and six gates, it is smaller than the Grand Bazaar but not less visited (Alkan 2015).

The Arasta Bazaar (or the Sipahi Carsisi) was built in the seventeenth century, behind the Blue Mosque. With only 40 stores, it is much smaller than the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar, and is specialized in traditional items (handwoven rugs, antiques, Iznik tiles).

Sahaflar Bazaar is another historic traditional shopping center in Istanbul, dating back to the fifteenth century. It is located in the old courtyard between Beyazid Mosque and the Grand Bazaar and specializes in paper and second-hand books. Other traditional bazaars in Istanbul are Siirt Bazaar (a good place to enjoy local foods from Southeastern Anatolia), Architect Sinan Bazaar (housed in a former public bath in Uskudar, on the Asian side, built at the end of the sixteenth century), and Bakircilar Bazaar (in Beyazit neighborhood, specialized in handmade copperware).

Outside of Istanbul, numerous old inns and caravanserais situated in old, historic cities, such as Bursa, Gaziantep, Izmir, Antalya, or Trabzon, are still open for business and numerous tourists visit them each year (Fig. 13.1).1 For example, when in Gaziantep, tourists can visit two traditional bazaars built centuries ago, during the Ottoman Empire, where the local traditional culture is still well-preserved: Bakircilar ?ar§isi (Coppersmiths’ Bazaar) and Zincirli Bazaar. In the former, not only can one buy beautiful items made of copper (e.g., utensils, pots, and pans), but one can also watch how these are handcrafted, without the use of modern technologies (Alkan 2015). Zincirli Bazaar is another Ottoman-style bazaar with five gates and 75 stores, where one can buy traditional scarves, spices, as well as many foodstuffs at wholesale prices (Alkan 2015).

In §anliurfa, the historic bazaar (Urfa Bazaar) is an open-air museum consisting of a series of adjoining bazaars built during the Ottoman period (Tanitkan 2005). These bazaars are famous for the traditional items (clothes, accessories, copper items, rugs, and carpets) sold there (Hurriyet Daily News 2011) but, lately, many Western products are sold alongside the traditional ones (tripadvisor.com).

The Alafati Antique Market in ?e§me (Province of Izmir) is another famous traditional market drawing thousands of tourists each weekend, especially during summer and autumn. It specializes in selling antiques and other authentic historical items from all provinces of Turkey, but also from the Greek islands (Alkan 2015).

 
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