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Life in the three ring market.

Lygos. Byzantium. Constantinople. Just some of the names history has used to herald this centuries old sought after city. Istanbul’s been founded, fought over and felled for most of its lifespan, but it’s always presented one thing to the masses that consistently flock to her— The Grand Bazaar. In Old Town, where east meets west in this crossroads of civilization, this 15th-century structure still acts as a beacon of commerce. From beaded jewelry makers to merchants of the finest carpets, the Bazaar caters to many a need, but that doesn’t stop the myriad of stall owners from taking the time to speak with any visitors who wander in. Amidst the fast-paced pitch of making the sale, sitting down to walk us through the many goods that could be found here was not a chore to these vendors, but part of what makes the Bazaar so special.

Some say the commercialized feel of the Bazaar has chipped away at its appeal, but if you’re curious enough to look, there are hidden shops tucked away down little corridors that follow the path of the past. Tradition flows down these narrow streets as freely as time itself, and though the frantic nature of it can be a bit jarring, we were sucked into the excitement almost involuntarily. Have fun with these guys. They love to talk to foreigners and enjoy the melting pot culture that the Bazaar has afforded their businesses. 

Today, the Grand Bazaar employs over 25,000 people. What started as a simple trading post centuries ago has become a vital center of commerce, art, and finance. Enticing anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 visitors to browse through her heritage daily, she laid a banquet of wonders before our eyes and quickly made us one of the many. While the Bazaar itself is the people who inhabit it, it’s the stories she continues to tell through their smiling faces that make this eternal store worth visiting.