Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Spice Bazaar

This post is about one of my favorite places in Istanbul, the Spice Bazaar.  Here is where I had my first contact with the Turkish culture of flavors, spices, colors and textures.  From the minute you walk in you are destine to smell and taste turkish delight and spices.    Either you stop or not, the vendors will offer you a bite of a Turkish delight.  Is hard not to stop, the vendors will find always a way to get you in their shop to show their treasures.   You will either find it stressful or fun, there is not in between. 

Spice Bazaar's view from the back door.

The Spice Bazaar, (In Turkish 'Mısır Çarşısı', or Egyptian Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in Fatih, in the neighborhood of Eminonu, it is the second largest covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar. 

Aladdin Shop.

The market was constructed in the 1660s as part of the New Mosque; rent from the shops supported the upkeep of the mosque as well as its charitable activities, which included a school, hamam and hospital.  The market's Turkish name, the Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Market), references the fact that the building was initially endowed with taxes levied on goods imported from Egypt. In its heyday, the bazaar was the last stop for the camel caravans that travelled the Silk Routes from China, India and Persia.

Topkapi shop.

The Spice Bazaar has a total of 85 shops selling spices, Turkish delight and other sweets, jewellery, souvenirs, and dried fruits and nuts.

The opening hours are 09:00 am to 19:00 pm during weekdays and Saturday; from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm on Sundays.   Spice Bazaar is closed during religious and public holidays.



Herbs and spices have been used by mankind since ancient times for a variety of purposes. Sometimes a wild flower, the bark of a great tree or the fruit of a bush, spices show infinite variety in their form, characteristics and function.

It is generally believe that spices were first used in the Far East. The spread of spices used since antiquity in China and India to all corners of the globe began nearly 2000 years ago. At the same time spices have historically been used in other parts of the world as well; one of the oldest of these areas is Anatolia, where spices began to be brought from various regions of Africa as flavor enhancers. Today spices are used most heavily by the inhabitants of South Asia. Turkey is also one of the countries with the heaviest use of spices; they have an especially vital role in the cooking of the Southeast.


Spice shop.


Saffron, caviar and sweets.


Turkish Delights and sweets

Turkish delight or lokum (Turkish: Türk lokumu) is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel; traditional varieties are mostly gel, generally flavored with rosewater, mastic, Bergamot orange, or lemon. The confection is often packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with icing sugar, copra, or powdered cream of tartar, to prevent clinging. Other common flavors include cinnamon and mint. In the production process, soapwort may be used as an emulsifying additive. 

Sweets, dry fruit, tea, turkish delight.

Turkish delights.




Baklava is sold by kilograms.


Pistachios & Walnuts

Dried fruits and nuts.

Dried fruits.


Ceramic and Pottery


Iznic ceramic.


Turkish tea pots.

Pottery and Paintings.


Turkish Bath and PEŞTEMAL

The peştemal, a gift from Anatolian culture to the world, is defined as a rectangular woven cloth used for covering the body in traditional Turkish baths. The peshtemal tradition has stood the test of time and survives today with its delicate texture, high absorbency, fast drying and lightness, you can find peshtemal in the spice bazar. There are several shops inside.



Turkish towels - Pestemal.



Belly dancers, customs and shoes

Belly dancers customs.

Shoes and hats.

Belly dancer's customs.




Silk pashmines.


Hand made cushins.


Turkish Eye

"A nazar (Turkish: nazar boncuğu Old Turkic: gökçe munçuk) is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the evil eye ("evil eye", from nazar and "amulet" from boncuğu). The word "nazar" is derived from the Arabic نظر, "sight" or "seeing". In Turkish, it is called Munçuk." Wikipedia

The 'munçuk' is seen in every sight of İstanbul and in different objects weather ornaments, keyrings, necklace, etc but the must popular one is the one you can hang.

Turkish eye

Turkish eye.

Turkish eye.



Chandelier store.

Chandelier store.





Thousands of years before our time, sweet-scented liquids were already being used for religious purposes, or simply to smell good. Depending on the fragrances used and on their alcohol content, these liquids took on various names such as, “eau de toilette,” “perfume,” or “Eau de Cologne.” The oldest fragrant liquid known in the Ottoman Empire was rose water, which was first distilled in the ninth century in the Arabian Peninsula. After its discovery in the sixteenth century, “Eau de Cologne” or “Cologne” reached the Ottoman lands during the reign of Abdülhamit II (1876 – 1909). Consequently, Cologne has dethroned rose water. The Ottomans mixed it with rosemary, orange, bergamot and lemon, and dipped it on sugar as a relief for stomach upsets.

Natural scents.



In Turkey, it is an important tradition to offer Cologne during guest visits, on bus trips and in restaurants. Its offering during holiday family gatherings and on funeral days has also become somewhat of a ritual. If you should visit a Turkish house, the first thing that you will be offered is Cologne and candy. This is meant to refresh a guest who is just off a trip and to help eliminate the germs that the outdoor conditions leave on hands. The candy that is offered along with the Cologne, represents the Turkish belief that a sweetened mouth will ensure the start of a sweet conversation.







Turkish tea, called çay (pronounced Chai), is black tea which is consumed without milk, is produced on the eastern Black Sea coast, which has a mild climate with high precipitation and fertile soil. Turkish tea is typically prepared using two stacked kettles (çaydanlık) specially designed for tea preparation. Water is brought to a boil in the larger lower kettle and then some of the water is used to fill the smaller kettle on top and steep (brew) several spoons of loose tea leaves, producing a very strong tea. When served, the remaining water is used to dilute the tea on an individual basis, giving each consumer the choice between strong (Turkish: koyu; literally "dark", tavşan kanı (literally: rabbit's blood) -- a deep brownish red or weak (Turkish: açık; literally "light"). Tea is drunk from small glasses to enjoy it hot in addition to showing its colour, with cubes of (Turkish: kesme şeker) beet sugar.

Tea shop.

Turkish Tea.

Main street Spice Bazaar.

Interaction with vendors.


Spice Bazaar Restaurant

At the main entrance on your left there are a stairs that will take you to a second floor restaurant.  The views from the inside are to the spice market which is in reconstruction and from the windows to the outside view of Eminonu.  I really recommend you to go even for a coffee to this place, the tiles and colors are beautiful.

Restaurant in the second floor of the spice bazaar.

Stair to the second floor of Spice Bazaar.

Windows to Eminonu.

Entrance door's guard.

On the west side of the market there are outdoor produce stalls selling fresh foodstuff from all over Anatolia, including a wonderful selection of cheeses. Also here is the most famous coffee supplier in İstanbul, Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi , established over 100 years ago. This is located on the corner of Hasırcılar Caddesi, which is full of shops selling food and kitchenware.

The Spice Bazaar is definitely an experience to live while your visit Istanbul.  Even though it is now being restored, you can still get a taste of what it is to be in a ancient bazaar.  I hope I can go back two years from now and see it restored.   

As of now I hope you enjoy the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_
Instagram:  street.photos.soreyar

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