The Egyptian Bazaar (Turkish: Mısır Çarşısı), known as the Spice Bazaar to foreigners, is one of the largest and oldest bazaars in the city and is the most popular shopping area in Istanbul, after the Grand Bazaar.
Located in Eminönü on the Golden Horn, at the southern end of the Galata Bridge, next to the New Mosque (Yeni Cami).
Constructed as part of the complex of New Mosque (Yeni Cami) in 1664, the “L” shaped Egyptian Bazaar was endowed to the foundation of the mosque. Originally named the “New Bazaar”, in the mid-18th century it earned it’s name the “Egyptian Bazaar” as the spices and goods being sold were mostly from Egypt.
Fun fact: the Turkish word mısır has a double meaning in Turkish: “Egypt” and “corn”.
Since Medieval Times spices were a vital and expensive part of cooking and became the bazaar’s main produce. Taking advantage of it’s location on the Golden Horn along the trade route between the East and Europe, the bazaar specialized in spice’s from the orient.
About 85 shops are located in the covered market offering goods from spices, teas, dried fruits and nuts. To sweets, candies and turkish delight (lokum) and foods from cheeses, meats, honey and jams. To attract foreign visitors, shops have also started to carry items like gold and silver jewellery, scarves, ceramics and Turkey/Istanbul souvenirs.
Open 7 days a week, it’s definitely the place to go for souvenir shopping, especially if lokum (Turkish delight) is on your list. And ask for vacuum packing! Most of the shops will offer to vacuum seal your purchase to ensure freshness and to avoid problems while traveling.
Popular spices found throughout the bazaar are: sage, aniseed, rosemary, black cumin, soapwort, bay leaf, dill, mustard, nutmeg, linden, clove, thyme, cumin, henna, red pepper, paprika, coriander, rose hip, marjoram, mint, rocket leaf, saffron, orchis, sumac, cinnamon, cress, vanilla, allspice, ginger.
Like the Grand Bazaar this is something you should experience walking through even if you don’t buy anything. It’s an experience within itself, and if you’re up for an adventure and okay with getting lost – I recommend exploring the backroads and alleys behind the Egyptian Bazaar leading up to the Grand Bazaar. The shops and stands in between are unlike anything you could imagine, EVERYTHING and ANYTHING desired can be found in this area.