Spice Bazaar is located in Eminonu, in the heart of Istanbul’s Old City. Eminonu is one of the transportation hubs of Istanbul and therefore it is crowded with people all day long.
Street food tours in Istanbul have been focusing on Eminonu and Sirkeci in recent years. These districts, where the oldest local restaurants and dessert shops of the city are located, offer visitors a historical atmosphere and traditional food places together.
Since Spice Bazaar is located in the middle of such a vibrant district, it offers its visitors many local experiences about Istanbul. You can see all the details I mentioned so far on the map below.
How to Go to Spice Bazaar?
You can take the tram to go to Spice Bazaar from Sultanahmet. Tram T1 departing from Sultanahmet Tram Station, passes Gulhane and Sirkeci stops, and reaches Eminonu Tram Station near Spice Bazaar.
To get to Spice Bazaar from Taksim, you can get down to “Kabatas” by taking Funicular F1 from the metro station in Taksim Square. Tram T1 departing from Kabatas Tram Station reaches Eminonu Tram Station near Spice Bazaar in 10 minutes.
In fact, it is more enjoyable to walk to Spice Bazaar from both Taksim and Sultanahmet. You can easily find the bazaar by following the tramway from Sultanahmet. On the way from Taksim, you can reach the bazaar by crossing the Galata Bridge.
In recent years, large hotels have opened in old districts such as Laleli, Aksaray and Beyazit. Those staying in this area can reach Spice Bazaar via the Grand Bazaar. You can see Mahmutpasa Street stretching between the two bazaars on the map above.
If you want to examine the Spice Bazaar map above in detail, you can access the full resolution version from this link. You can find many useful maps like this in the article named Istanbul tourist maps.
Spice Bazaar Shopping Tips
Spice Bazaar is one of the most important historical shopping places in Istanbul. As a local tour guide in Istanbul, in this article I tried to give you useful shopping tips on your visit to Spice Bazaar.
1. What to buy at Spice Bazaar?
In the notes of Western historians, this bazaar was described as a place where all kinds of spices are sold in large barrels. During the Ottoman period between the 15th and 20th centuries, only spices were sold here.
Today, most of the shops in the bazaar are similar to each other. In a typical Spice Bazaar shop, you can buy Turkish delight, tea leaves, various local nuts, dried fruits, saffron and, of course, spices.
Although most of the shops in the bazaar sell food, there are also souvenir shops like those in the Grand Bazaar. You can also find several jewelry and handbag shops.
2. Do Locals Shop at Spice Bazaar?
The answer to this question is partially yes. Curious Istanbulites are fascinated by the colorful shops and buy something while they explore every corner of the bazaar.
However, in general terms, the Spice Bazaar is considered a touristic and expensive place. On the other hand, the traditional shops in the streets around the bazaar are very popular with the locals.
Eminonu, the district where the bazaar is located, is a place where you can find the cheapest of everything in Istanbul. The streets surrounding the bazaar are ideal for electronics, pastry items, breakfast items and clothing.
There is an area in Istanbul where you can buy every item cheaply. Since the locals know this, they go to the Old City for certain things and to Beyoglu (around Taksim) for others.
History of the Spice Bazaar
The history of Spice Bazaar goes back to the 17th century. This bazaar was built in 1664 as part of the New Mosque complex. In the Ottoman period, only spices were sold in it.
The bazaar is known locally as the Egyptian Bazaar. The reason for this was that spices from Asia came to Egypt via caravans during the Ottoman period. Then spices were brought from Egypt to Istanbul by ship.
Traditional trade routes were under the control of the Ottoman Empire for many years. Since Egypt was also an Ottoman province, it functioned as a distribution point.
Spices brought to Istanbul were distributed to the whole city through the Spice Bazaar. Spices were also exported to Europe from the Port of Constantinople, just as in Byzantine Empire times.
Things to Do around Spice Bazaar
Things to do around Spice Bazaar include visiting historical mosques, eating at Hocapasa restaurants, and walking across the Galata Bridge to the opposite side of the Golden Horn.
1. New Mosque
The New Mosque (aka Yeni Cami) is located right next to the Spice Bazaar. When a mosque was built in the Ottoman period, a bazaar was built next to it. Rental income from the bazaar was used for the restoration of the mosque.
One of the landmarks of the big square in Eminonu is the New Mosque. When you say Eminonu, Istanbulites think of the square in front of the mosque and the bazaar, and the flying pigeons.
Famous Turkish photographer Ara Guler has a beautiful photograph that depicts exactly the scene I have described. You can visit Ara Guler Photography Museum in Bomonti in Sisli district. So you can see what life was like in Istanbul in the 50s and 60s.
2. Mahmutpasa Bazaar
After having a shopping experience at Spice Bazaar, you can also visit the local public markets around it. For example, Mahmutpasa Bazaar, which lies between Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar, is a very good example of this.
Mahmutpasa Bazaar is located on a sloping road and is one of the most popular shopping spots in Istanbul. Istanbulites usually come here to shop for cheap clothing. Mahmutpasa is also traditionally the place where young girls shop for dowry.
3. Rustem Pasha Mosque
Rustem Pasha Mosque is one of the relatively little-known but most beautiful mosques in Istanbul. The mosque, which houses the most distinguished Iznik tiles from the Ottoman period, was chosen as one of the “100 hidden gems of the world” by Newsweek magazine.
Rustem Pasha Mosque was built by Mimar Sinan, the most prolific architect of the Ottoman Empire. As a person who lived during the peak period of the empire, Mimar Sinan also built the largest mosque in the city, the Suleymaniye Mosque.
4. Hocapasa Street
Hocapasa Street is famous for its local restaurants. There is a shop here that represents each and every one of Istanbul’s street foods. For example, you can find delicacies such as doner kebab, pide, cag kebab and kofte (Turkish meatballs) here.
Hocapasa Street is also home to Hodjapasha Cultural Center. It is possible to watch the best whirling dervish show of Istanbul here. In fact, it is possible to see an equivalent show at the Galata Mevlevi House Museum in Taksim.
5. Galata Bridge
Galata Bridge is the oldest and most famous of the bridges over the Golden Horn. It is very pleasant to pass by Beyoglu (Modern Istanbul) on foot from here. So you can take pictures of the fishermen on the bridge.
Galata Bridge is located at the junction of Golden Horn and Bosphorus and connects Old City and Beyoglu (Relatively new city).
It is possible to reach popular tourist destinations such as Tophane, Cihangir, Galata, Istiklal Street and Taksim Square from Karakoy. You can also go to the famous Galata Tower by walking from Karakoy.
Istanbul Spice Bazaar Opening Hours 2022
Spice Bazaar opening hours are from 09:00 in the morning to 7:00 in the evening. The bazaar is open to visitors every day. Only religious holidays are exceptions. Spice Bazaar may be closed on the first days of Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha.
In conclusion, Spice Bazaar is a must-visit place for those who are going to visit Istanbul. What this bazaar has to offer is much more than just shopping.
Where Spice Bazaar is located, you can find Istanbul’s best local restaurants and dessert shops. For example, Ali Muhittin Hacibekir, the oldest Turkish delight shop in the city, and Hafiz Mustafa, one of the best baklava shops, are also located in the vicinity.
As an Istanbulite, I love spending time around Spice Bazaar. Because it is very enjoyable to eat traditional Turkish food at a point where you can watch the people shopping in the neighborhood.
After lunch, you can go to Brew Coffeeworks, one of the best speciality coffee shops in Istanbul, and drink a nice Turkish coffee while watching the crowds in Eminonu.
Written by Serhat Engul