The Hidden Arasta Bazaar right Beside the Blue Mosque!
Thanks to the fame of the Grand Bazaar the city of Istanbul is filled with lesser-known markets such as the wonderful Arasta Bazaar.
Hidden in plain sight right beside the Blue Mosque in the middle of Sultanahmet, the Arasta Bazaar offers a far more tranquil shopping atmosphere compared to the bustling Grand Bazaar and Egyptian Bazaars of Istanbul.
Come with us on a journey of discovery as we visit the charming 17th-century Arasta Çarşısı, just steps away from the historic Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque, and find out all you need to know about this fabulous and friendly Istanbul city market.
Let’s head inside!
A Brief History of the Arasta Bazaar
The Arasta Bazaar has an interesting history dating back over 400 years when this was the location for the then sultans horse team to be stabled.
Eventually the stables were redeveloped into an Ottoman Bazaar to support the upkeep of the massive Blue Mosque project diectly adjacent. The shopkeepers of the Arasta Bazaar paid their rent directly into the Blue Mosque coffers for its upkeep and maintenance.
At that time in history this was known as the Sipahiler Bazaar (Sipahiler Çarşısı) but eventually, it fell into disrepair before being completely destroyed by fire in the 1930’s.
That derelct space besdie the Blue Mosque was reborn in the1980’s on the back of the tourism boom to the city and the Arast Bazaar as we know it was developed.
Today the bazaar is almost unchanged from its original plan and whilst not one of the most well-known or popular covered markets in Istanbul – its probably the easiest to get to – if you can find it!
Did You Know?
Exploring The Shops Of The Arasta Bazaar
One of the highlights of a visit to the Arasta Bazaar is the diverse array of shops that can be found within its relatively small walls.
From traditional Turkish souvenirs and handcrafted goods to contemporary clothing and accessories, there is something for everyone at the bazaar.
Whether you’re looking to pick up a few mementos from your trip or simply soaking up the atmosphere, the shops of the Arasta Bazaar are sure to leave a lasting impression.
Our favorite stores here are the one’s selling colorfully decorated tiles, after all this is the location of the famous Mosaic Museum, so they must know a thing or two about ceramics.
You’ll find all of the following here and more:
~ Textiles & Clothes
~ Carpets & Kilms
~ Jewellrey & Shoes
~ Food & Spices
~ Ceramics & Paintings
and of course with the Blue Mosque being so close the most important item, scarves!
Arasta Bazaar vs Grand Bazaar
These are different Bazaars in both how they are set-out and how items are actually sold.
But with more than 4000 shops at the Grand Bazaar versus the 25 or so shops here at the Arasta Bazaar there really is no comparison that can be made.
If you want to be hassled endlessly but be able to purchase at what are mostly cheaper prices, then the grand Bazaar is more for you. If you want a little more tranquillity to your shopping experience then the Arasta Bazaar will suit you just fine.
Arasta Bazaar Location & Map
This thriving hub of commerce and culture, is located in the heart of the historic Sultanahmet neighborhood in the center of old Istanbul.
This area is renowned for its rich history and architectural heritage, attracting millions of visitors from around the world each year.
Situated right beside to the Blue Mosque the bazaar is actually more difficult to find than you would believe as it is almost hidden on a sort of lower level.
It’s extremely easy to get to this part of the city with Trams being your best mode of travel in this old part of Istanbul.
That’s besides walking of course, as you feet will serve you best when you’re looking to check out the Arasta Bazaar. You can walk here from any of the Sultanahmet Hotels easily.
Arasta Bazaar Opening Hours
The opening hours of the Arasta Bazaar are uniform and only change slightly from time to time when some public holidays or specialty events in the area might affect their hours of operations.
But generally the operating hours for shopping at the bazaar are as follows:
Before visiting the best bet is to check out the most up to date information that can be found on the Arasta Bazaar Google Business Profile
Food and Drink at the Arasta Bazaar
Don’t be afraid to take up any shopkeeper on their offer of tea – Turks love tea!
it won’t mean that they will expect you to buy from them it will mean they expect you to listen, but only for as long as the tea lasts of course.
Surrounding the bazaar there are probably 20 eateries with a 2 minute walk so you definitely won’t go hungry here.
But if you are after a beer for example, keep in mind that this close to the Blue Mosque it’s likely that any restaurant will NOT offer alcohol on their menus.
Haggling and Negotiating in the Bazaar
Haggling can be very enjoyable and we love seeing these Turkish Shopkeepers “pretend” that you’re taking advantage of them.
They’ll use phrases like “are you trying to rob me”, “my family needs to eat”, “my brother lives in America” and others, all while gesticulating wildly with their hands and arms. They’ll use humor, jokes, sad stories and more to convince you to buy from them and only them.
But its all in fun, and always remember – they won’t sell if they are going to lose money, so once they say yes, then you know this is a fair price.
The procedure to haggle we’ve followed forever is roughly as follows:
1. Shopkeeper offers price.
2. Counters offer price of about 60% less of what was originally offered.
3. Shopkeeper pretends you are trying to rob him/her and feigns anger.
4. More negotiation takes place and a final price of about 70-80% of what was originally offered is agreed.
5. Everyone is happy.
Aratsa Bazaar | Our Thoughts
The Arasta Bazaar is, as we’ve already mentioned, a quieter more tranquil shopping experience than the Grand Bazaar just 400 meters away to the north and with only one strip of shops you certainly won’t get lost here which is a bonus.
Surprisingly the goods on offer, whilst not in the same quantities as at other shopping bazaars in the city, are no different than at the larger bazaars, there are just way less shops selling the same thing.
Have you visited the Arasta Bazaar yourself? We’d love to hear of your experience there so perhaps consider dropping us a message via our Contact Us form at the bottom of our About Page.
Cheers Everyone and thanks for reading!
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Is There An Entrance Fee To The Arasta Bazaar?
No. Entrance to the Arasta Bazaar is totally free and anyone can shop there. The only fee would be if you decided to check out the Mosaic museum below.
Can I Bargain For Goods At The Arasta Bazaar?
Yes. However the vendors here are nowhere near as intimidating as those you might find at the huge bazaars of Istanbul so a little bit of haggling can be a fun experience here.
Is The Arasta Bazaar Open Every Day?
Incredibly YES. Normal hours are 9am through to 7pm although every shopkeeper might not open their store every single day.
Is The Arasta Bazaar Open On Sunday?
Yes but some vendors choose to not operate on a Sunday so it’s possible that on your visit that not all vendors will be trading.