Thursday, December 22, 2016


Mahmutpaşa, Fatih - İstanbul - Turkey

GPS : 41°00'41.6"N 28°58'12.9"E / 41.011556, 28.970250

 photo mahmutpasa_bazaar105.jpg


Mahmutpasha Bazaar, (Turkish: Mahmutpaşa Çarşısı) is a shopping street in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located in the area between Grand Bazaar and Eminönü in the Mahmutpaşa neighbourhood of Fatih district. This market area, with copious small shops on both sides of the main street, is a symbol of cheap shopping in Istanbul. The bazaar hosts 256 shops.

Few bazaars feel both as real and surreal as the one leading downhill from the Grand Bazaar towards the Spice Bazaar in Eminonu. The bazaar gets its name from the street, named after the nearby Mahmutpaşa Mosque. This was commissioned by the Ottoman Grand Vizier Mahmut Pasha (d. 1474) during the rule of Sultan Mehmed II in 1462.  The mosque complex also contains a hamam, a türbe, sebils and fountains.

Commissioned in the 15th century by Grand Vizier Mahmut Paşa, this frenzied market gives a unique glimpse into the synthesis of east and west, religion and consumerism which underlies modern Turkish culture. Inside the jumbled buildings and brightly lit basements is a bustling world of bargain shopping, where stores selling circumcision costumes stand side by side those trying to fleece off discount underwear and fresh sweet corn.

Shoppers are largely left alone to peruse the labyrinth of stores along the hectic main street and its arteries, which sell everything from pyjamas to handbags, fabric, headscarves, shoes, cosmetics and elaborately decorated wedding dresses. Alongside brands like world famous shoes, there are also many wholesale suppliers selling cheap clothing, factory seconds and rip offs; if you have the time to rifle through it all, some of the best deals in the city can be found here.

Bring an adventurous spirit and be prepared to veer off into the unknown, where some of Istanbul’s best kept historical secrets lie. All along Mahmutpaşa are a sprinkling of caravanserais or "hans". These ancient roadside inns were once used to house travellers, who typically entered by camel through a narrow corridor and came out into a large open courtyard with surrounding stalls for the visitors and their animals and merchandise. These days, clothing, textiles and general kitsch have taken over.

One of the most fascinating of Mahmutpaşa’s hans is Kürkçü Han, the only one of its kind still standing from the time of Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror. The han’s expansive courtyard is reminiscent of a German Christmas market, though instead of mulled wine and wieners the small stalls sell clothes, shoes and brightly coloured wedding paraphernalia.

The neighbourhood’s conservative leanings also make it a popular place for Islamic religious clothing and accessories such as headscarves, overcoats, caps and special occasion costumes. In the days leading up to religious holidays such as Bayrams the area heaves with excited shoppers.

The large number of unlicensed street peddlers means that many items which are sold in the Grand Bazaar can be found here for a fraction of the price and without the stress of hard bargaining. Prices inside the Bazaar’s stores are generally fixed.

Other attractions in the area include the Mahmutpaşa Mosque, and the hamam, türbe (Ottoman tomb) and fountains belonging to the Bazaar complex. When you’ve worked up a hunger, head to one of the many cheap eateries lining Mahmutpaşa Street which serve a variety of Turkish snacks such as doner kebab and pide. There is also a cafe inside the hamam complex which sells homemade dishes and offers a special set lunch menu.

The büfes lining Mahmutpaşa are a good place to rest when the consumerist chaos gets too much. These small cafeterias offer basic food and the chance to play spot the tourist, which isn’t too difficult since they tend to stick to a uniform of beige shorts, tank tops and hiking boots, a combination few Turks would care to wear.

Part of Istanbul’s appeal lies in its ability to shock, surprise and delight even the most city-weary soul. With the heat rising and Ramadan upon us, a little more inspiration is needed to tackle the town and immerse ourselves in the special energy that Istanbul has to offer. A visit to Mahmutpaşa Bazaar may just provide the Red Bull wings we are all after.


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