Istanbul's Bazaar Quarter:
Backstreet Walking Tours

Istanbul has always been a center of commerce, thanks to its location on the Bosphorus, the gateway between the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, the West and the East. The world-renowned Grand Bazaar sits high on a hill with centuries-old markets and hans (city caravansarays) scattered down the hill to the Egyptian Bazaar, also known as the Spice Bazaar. Edda explored these streets for years, guiding historical walking tours that are now available in book form.

Ta-Da! Istanbul's Bazaar Quarter, Backstreet Walking Tours offers four self-guided walking tours through Istanbul's ancient Bazaar Quarter, the next best thing to having Edda as your guide.
My good friend Edda Weissenbacher and I collaborated on this book to bring her fascinating walking tours to people outside her circle of friends. The book has been successful, now in its third printing and soon to be released as a phone app. Edda's years of exploring the back streets of Istanbul and researching its history make the book's four walking tours fascinating forays into the past centuries of Constantinople.


This view overlooking the courtyard of the Taş Han was typical of most hans. The bottom level was for shops and workshops while the upstairs was lodging for itinerant merchants.

Walk A
West of the Grand Bazaar

This walk, my favorite, takes you from the ancient refurbished Taş Han, through the Laleli Mosque, and past a total of 20 fascinating edifices to finish outside the Grand Bazaar.
The Taş Han was refurbished at great expense by Kemal Ocak, who has become a good friend. It includes clothing and leather shops as well as two restaurants.
If you're lucky, you may discover Adem Üsta, who wanders the streets and the hans of the Grand Bazaar selling his delectable cheese börek (pastry).
The Taş Han has converted its underground cistern/stable to a night club, The Arkat, where you can indulge in a delicious dinner and a floor show with belly dancing.
Such fun!
The book will guide you through the interior of this famous covered market, home to over 3000 shops.

Walk B
In and Around the Grand Bazaar

This walk guides you through the Grand Bazaar to explore the hans (ancient enclosed markets) that surround the many shops inside the bazaar. On this tour you'll visit some of the gold and silver artisans whose work is featured in the Grand Bazaar's many shops.
The Çuhaci Han is a fascinating building whose lovely second-story arcade offers a stunning view of the Nuruosmaniye Mosque (above left). Within the han are numerous ateliers (workshops) where artisans create  jewelry. The guide includes directions to visit this workshop owned by Kaya Değirmenci. You'll love getting an inside look.
The nearby Kalcilar Han is known as the Silver Han, another open-air courtyard surrounded by shops and ateliers. Here you can visit the workshop of Aruş Taş, one of the han's premier silversmiths.

Walk C
Behind the Grand Bazaar

This walk takes you through a number of hans that are separate from the Grand Bazaar but that each have their own fascinating history. You will head down the hill, meandering through interesting relics on your way to the Spice Bazaar.
As you walk down along Constantinople's ancient market streets, be sure to look up to revel at the crumbling stone walls above you. These walls of the Buyuk Yeni Han (The Big New Han, circa 1764) were build to allow those on upper stories to see both up and down the busy street.
Without the guidebook you'd never find this rooftop that features a stunning view overlooking Istanbul, the Golden Horn, and the Bosphorus. Top secret!
Walk C finishes at the Mısır Çarşısı, the Spice Bazaar, a veritable cornucopia of both edibles and gifts. It's a site not to be missed, though you'll find that prices in shops around the outside of the building are less than those inside. It's about overhead.

Walk D
Sites Above Eminönü

This walk begins at the Yeni Camii (New Mosque) near the ferry and tram station of Eminönü and guides you up the hill to the stunning Süleymaniye Mosque, which overlooks the city. Then you descend back down to the Golden Horn to where you began.
The Süleymaniye Mosque, the largest in Istanbul, is an amazing edifice designed by the famous architect, Sinan. It is surrounded by a complex of buildings that were once medreses (schools), libraries, soup kitchens, and a hamam.
The Süleymaniye Mosque's courtyard features one of the most compelling views overlooking the Golden Horn. To the right is one of many grave markers in the cemetery beside the mosque. The cemetery also includes huge monuments to Sultan Süleyman and his wife Hürrem.
Near the end of Walk D is my favorite mosque in Istanbul, the Rüstem Paşa Mosque, which sits on a second story above Eminönü. It features some of the finest ceramit tiles in the area and is the only mosque with an outside prayer area.