Istanbul: Places to Explore

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The Bazaar Area and Environs

The area between the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar was historically the city’s center of business and trade, and the streets here still teem with tradespeople and shoppers. You could easily spend hours exploring the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Bazaar also has its charms. But take time to wander outside them, too, whether along Nuruosmaniye Caddesi with its upmarket jewelry, antiques, and carpet boutiques, or through the narrow, somewhat run-down streets—lined with stores and stalls selling all manner of everyday items at bargain prices, primarily to locals—that lead from the Grand Bazaar down toward the Golden Horn.

Even though most of the old Byzantine and Ottoman buildings have long disappeared, the area gives an impression of what the city must have been like when it was the bustling capital of a vast empire. The beautiful Süleymaniye Mosque, one of the architect Sinan’s masterpieces, is grandly situated on a hilltop just a stone’s throw from the Grand Bazaar and is worth a detour. The Rüstem Paşa Camii and Yeni Cami, both located near Eminönü on the waterfront, are also particularly striking. When exploring this area, it’s a good idea to start at the Grand Bazaar and work your way downhill to Eminönü—it's a rather stiff climb the other way.

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