After years of delay, Istanbul's historic Grand Bazaar, one of the world's oldest and largest covered markets, is finally undergoing restoration. The work started yesterday with a ceremony organized by the Fatih municipality, where the bazaar is located.
The restoration will overhaul the centuries-old, labyrinthine complex, which draws nearly 100 million visitors every year. It will cost about $55 million and may take as long as 10 years. The first section to be renovated is the roof of the complex, where broken tiles lie under a messy mass of air conditioners, antennae and water tanks. Locals have voiced concerns for the state of the roof, featured prominently in several Hollywood films, such as the 2012 James Bond film "Skyfall," where the titular spy engages in a high-speed motorcycle chase on the scenic rooftop of the bazaar.
The Grand Bazaar is located on Istanbul's touristy historic peninsula, and is the country's most famous market.
Covering a total of 45,000 square meters, the bazaar has 3,125 shops and 25,000 employees. Despite its cultural and economic importance, the bazaar has been neglected over the years in terms of renovation and restoration due to multiple ownership, despite falling into disrepair.
The bazaar was built some 554 years ago after Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror conquered Constantinople.