Eminönü, Istanbul, Turkey
The two bedestens were built during the reign of Mehmed II ‘the Conqueror’, (his second reign AH 855–86 / AD 1451––81), and the bazaar developed around them
Sultan Mehmed II ‘the Conqueror’, and other Ottoman sultans. Sultan Mustafa II (AH 1106–15 / AD 1695–1703) ordered the use of masonry construction in the bazaar in place of the customary wooden construction to prevent damage by fire.
Known locally as the 'Covered Bazaar', the Grand Bazaar was the commercial heart of Istanbul during the Ottoman era. The bazaar centres around two bedestens (a domed and guarded building where luxury goods such as silk and jewellery were stored and sold), namely the Inner and the Sandal bedestens, built as waqfs (pious endowments) by Mehmed II soon after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. With time, the number hans (inns) and shops around them increased, and the bazaar evolved, through fires and earthquakes, into its present shape of a labyrinth of vaulted streets and alleys bordered by shops.
The Inner Bedesten (also known as Cevahir or Old Bedesten) was built first. It is a rectangular masonry structure (45.30 x 29.50 m from the inside) with a gate in the middle of each of its sides. The interior is dominated by two rows of four thick piers connected by wide arches and supporting 15 domes, with the central dome reaching 14.89 m in height.
The Sandal Bedesten (also known as the Small or New Bedesten) is name d after the cotton and silk textiles (sandal) sold there. It is somewhat smaller (40 m x 32 m from the inside) but is designed along the same general lines as the Inner Bedesten. It has three rows of four piers connected by wide arches and supporting 20 domes. Both structures are surrounded by attached shops from the outside, but remain physically prominent in relation to the rest of the bazaar.
The bazaar currently has over 60 streets and about 4000 shops, including 14 hans, 2 bedestens, as well as several mosques and fountains. The streets retain their old names, reflecting the old custom which gathered together artisans and/or shops producing or selling similar items. The Grand Bazaar has suffered considerable damage as a result of numerous fires since the 16th century, as well as earthquakes of 1766 and 1894, and has therefore undergone several periods of restoration work, the latest of which was completed in 1959. Today the Grand Bazaar is primarily a tourist attraction.
Istanbul has three bedestens, two as described above and a third, also built by Mehmed the Conqueror, is located in the Galata quarter. This is in contrast to other cities in the Ottoman Empire, which commonly had only one or two bedestens, thus demonstrating the importance of the capital as a commercial centre.
The Grand Bazaar or Covered Bazaar of Istanbul developed around two bedestens (guarded building for luxury goods) built by Mehmed II (the Conqueror) and is one of the most striking examples providing us with information on the commercial life of the Ottoman city. A gigantic commercial complex containing 2 bedestens, 14 hans and about 4,000 shops, several masjids and fountains, the Grand Bazaar has survived through great alterations and still serves as a bazaar.
The monument can be dated based on endowment charters (waqfiyya) of Mehmed II, other various Ottoman archival documents, and contemporary accounts by travellers.
Ayverdi, E. H., Osmanlı Mimarisinde Fatih Devri 855–86 (1451–81), [Reign of the Conqueror in Ottoman Architecture 855–86 (1451–81)], IV, Istanbul, 1974, pp.557–79.
Eyice, S., “Büyük Çarşı,” Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı İslam Ansiklopedisi [Foundation of Turkish Religious Affairs, Encyclopaedia of Islam] Vol. 6, Istanbul, 1992, pp.509–13.
Gülersoy, Ç., Story of the Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, 1990.
Müller-Wiener, W., Bildlexikon zur Topographie Istanbuls, Tübingen, 1977, pp.345–9.
Öndeş, G., Türk Çarşıları [Turkish Bazaars], Istanbul, 1953, pp.30–5.
İnci Türkoğlu "Grand Bazaar" in Discover Islamic Art, Museum With No Frontiers, 2018. 2018. http://www.discoverislamicart.org/database_item.php?id=monument;ISL;tr;Mon01;28;en
Prepared by: İnci Türkoğluİnci Türkoğlu
İnci Türkoğlu has been working as a tourist guide and freelance consultant in tourism and publishing since 1993. She was born in Alaşehir, Turkey, in 1967. She graduated from the English Department of Bornova Anatolian High School in 1985 and lived in the USA for a year as an exchange student. She graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering, Dokuz Eylül University, Izmir, and the professional tourist guide courses of the Ministry of Tourism in 1991. She worked as an engineer for a while. She graduated from the Department of Art History, Faculty of Letters, Ege University, Izmir, in 1997 with an undergraduate thesis entitled “Byzantine House Architecture in Western Anatolia”. She completed her Master's at the Byzantine Art branch of the same department in 2001 with a thesis entitled “Synagogue Architecture in Turkey from Antiquity to the Present”. She has published on art history and tourism.
Copyedited by: Mandi Gomez
MWNF Working Number: TR 41
Islamic Dynasties / Period
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