Istanbul’s spice bazaar, known as the Mısır Çarşısı or Egyptian Bazaar, is the city’s most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar. It was first built in 1660, and has been the centre of the spice trade here ever since.
Situated at the southern end of the Galata bridge, the bazaar’s 85 shops sell a dizzying array of spices. Also available are dried fruits, nuts, sausages, cheeses, sweets, teas, soaps, jewellery and souvenirs - some stalls also sell Iranian caviar. The smells are glorious and the colours are stunning. Turkish delight can be found in an incredible range of flavours (and prices), and merchants sell their own spice blends which you can try before buying.
Just like in the Grand Bazaar and in the souks of Marrakech, be prepared for crowds and be prepared to haggle. Vendors will be keen for you to pay a premium on their delicacies, but make like a local and don’t be afraid to drive a hard bargain! Spices tend to be sold vacuum sealed, so there’s no problem taking them home in your hand luggage.
The bazaar is an intoxicating sensory delight, breathing the fragrant legacy of the ancient Silk Road trade route. Dive into the throng for an unmissable Istanbul experience.