Colorful and cheap: Get to know the best markets in Istanbul
by Miraç Tapan
ISTANBULMar 29, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Miraç Tapan
Mar 29, 2015 12:00 am
Istanbul is home to stores of various worldwide brands that create a rich shopping culture; but its hidden shopping gems are in the back streets of this glorious city
Since the times of the Ottoman Empire, Turkish people have been doing their weekly grocery shopping from the markets that are set in their districts. Each market is unique to its own district in terms of the concept and goods that are sold. Every week, nearly 200 markets are set-up on the streets of Istanbul offering shoppers a wide selection of foods and goods ranging from tropical fruits and vegetables to clothing and home decoration accessories. Although many markets in Istanbul stand out with their fresh fruits and vegetables from all corners of Turkey, Istanbul's markets are rich in especially clothing, antiques, kitchenware, accessories and even cosmetics. One should keep in mind that just because they are sold at street markets, the goods on the stands are not of low quality. Actually, many textiles and leather products of well-known international brands are manufactured in Turkey and most of the stallholders purchase the export surplus or faulty products of these brands to sell them with or without showing the brand name. So if you want to spend a day wandering around the colorful markets of Istanbul, here are some of the most-visited and famous markets in the city:
Feriköy Ecological and Flea Markets
Located in Şişli district of Istanbul, Feriköy market place hosts two markets a week. The first one is the Feriköy Ecological Market which is also known as the Şişli or Bomonti Ecological Market. Set-up on Saturdays, the market offers ecological and specially-grown vegetables and fruits. As the market favors the nature and puts emphasis on ecology, it is forbidden to use plastic bags of any sort. So, if you are planning to pay a visit, remember to bring along a paper bag. Also, if you want to lay your hands on the freshest fruits and vegetables, it is best to wake up early and go to the market place. Moreover, the market which was established in 2006 by the Buğday Derneği (Wheat Association in English) is highly popular among parents with little children.
The Flea Market, also set-up in Feriköy, is open on Sundays from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Located between the skyscrapers of Bomonti, which is a popular district in terms of urban transformation, the flea market swarms with collectors, vintage lovers and university students. One can find anything in the market from old photographs of unknown people to 20-year-old cigarette packs, gramophones, vintage jewelry, clothing and cameras. Although second-hand buying and selling is not a developed culture in Turkey, thanks to the recently established flea markets across the country, people have begun appreciating the old and the memories. The prices are low; however they can be high for those things which are hard to find anywhere else. You can buy a nice piece of jewelry for TL 5 ($1.90) or a fine vintage fur coat for TL 700. It is better to get there early if you want to wander around when the market place is not crowded.
Set in the Fatih district which is located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul, the Çarşamba market is one of the oldest market places in the city. It opens every Wednesday (Çarşamba in Turkish) from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Spread over a large area, Çarşamba market offers almost anything ranging from fruits and vegetables to clothing, kitchenware and even stationery with about 1,290 vendors and 4,800 stands. The market is very famous among Istanbulites and although Fatih is situated in the European side of Istanbul, people from the Asian side visit the market place every week. As it is a huge market, it is important to set your priorities. If you want to buy fruits and vegetables, you should directly head to that direction as the colorful clothing and fabrics on the other side of the market can easily lure you away. For tourists who want to experience the Turkish way of shopping, Çarşamba Market in Fatih is the best place.
Kadıköy Market which has been around since 1969 is situated on the Asian side of Istanbul. In 2008, the market place was moved to a modern facility as the old location of the market place caused traffic jams and blocked some of the main streets of the district. Although the market is set-up twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, only the stalls selling clothing are open on Fridays. Easy to access via ferry or Metrobus, the market draws scores of people, especially women, and is famous for its female stallholders. If you are interested in fresh fruits and vegetables displayed at the stalls, Kadıköy Market is where you should be on Tuesdays. As each market place is famous for one thing, clothing, ecological foods or antiques, Kadıköy's market is famous for its cheese stalls. You can find any type of cheese from İzmir's famous "Tulum" to Edirne's white cheese. If you are curious about their taste, all you have to do is to ask the stallholders for small slice.