Shopping in Istanbul

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Istanbul Shopping

Istanbul has been a shopper's town for, well, centuries—the sprawling Grand Bazaar, open since 1461, could easily be called the world's oldest shopping mall—but this not to say that the city is stuck in the past. Along with its colorful bazaars and outdoor markets, Istanbul also has a wide range of modern shopping options, from large shopping centers—enormous new malls seem to be sprouting up constantly, and the Cevahir mall in Şişli claims to be the largest in Europe—to small boutiques. Either way, it's almost impossible to leave Istanbul without buying something. Whether you're looking for trinkets and souvenirs, kilims and carpets, brass and silverware, leather goods, old books, prints and maps, or furnishings and clothes (Turkish textiles are among the best in the world), you can find them here. Shopping in Istanbul also provides a snapshot of the city's contrasts and contradictions: from migrants from eastern Turkey selling their wares on the streets, to the leisurely, time-honored haggling over endless glasses of tea in the bazaars and back alleys, to the credit cards and bar codes of the plush, upscale Western-style department stores.

İstiklal Caddesi is a pedestrian-only boulevard with everything from global brands like Levi's and big-name Turkish companies such as Mavi to small shoe stores and bookstores. The high-fashion district is the upscale Nişantaşı neighborhood, 1 km (½ mi) north of İstiklal Caddesi—this is where you'll find the best efforts of Turkish fashion designers, such as Özlem Süer, as well as the flagship stores of international brands such as Armani, DKNY, and Hugo Boss. City's, a ritzy mall that opened in 2008, has designer shops like Dolce & Gabbana and Class Roberto Cavalli—though because of the high import taxes, these name brands are usually more expensive in Turkey than they are in the U.S. The Cevahir mall, in Şişli, has more than 300 stores selling foreign and local brand-name clothing and is a little easier on the wallet.

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