We’re going to wander around the historic Egyptian spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) in this article.
Istanbul has done what it does best and once again pushed itself to the forefront of our minds. That’s what this city does to you.
Mısır Çarşısı (the Egyptian Spice Bazaar)
The Egyptian Spice Bazaar is probably Istanbul’s most famous historic trading centre after Kapalı Çarşısı (the Grand Bazaar), and it comes in for just as much stick for being ‘touristy.’
Last October, we decided to give it another go and decided that touristy it most definitely is, but that’s no reason to ignore it when you’re in Istanbul.
Built in 1664, Mısır Çarşısı is an L-shaped ornate construction whose main entrance sits right next to Yeni Camii.
There’s no grand sign to announce its presence and, with the crowds of people to-ing and fro-ing and the fact that there’s a huge mosque demanding your attention, the entrance is easy to miss if you’re just passing by and aren’t familiar with the area.
We’re in the Eminönü area – one of our favourite areas in Istanbul.
Those looking to do traditional Turkish souvenir shopping can get all the classics from the Egyptian Spice Bazaar: Turkish tea, macun, Turkish Delight, fabrics and, of course, spices.
Nothing special there, so what is it that makes the Egyptian Spice Bazaar so appealing?
The 1664 construction date is the give away here.
As shopping centres go, the Egyptian Spice Bazaar is both historic and aesthetically pleasing.
We love walking through here. We’ve never bought anything (although the natural soaps above were a bit of a temptation).
We just enjoy the experience of passing under hundreds of years old vaulted ceilings, breathing in the jumble of aromas.
If ‘touristy’ isn’t your thing, ignore the camera lenses and the ‘hello, yes please,’ of the traders.
Enjoy the history, the intricate paintwork on walls and ceilings…but, oh, how mouth-watering does all this sausage, sucuk and pastırma look?
If we were staying in an apartment in Istanbul, as we did in Izmir, even we would have parted with some cash at this shop.
Keeping one’s eyes looking straight ahead in Mısır Çarşısı is no easy task.
Colourful mosaic lanterns, cured meats, sun dried tomatoes, chillies and dried, hollowed out aubergines hang along your route towards your exit.
Ignore all this and you can march through the main entrance by Yeni Camii and exit the other side at Hasırcılar Kapısı in around five minutes. But what a waste that would be.
Because there’s nothing overwhelming about the size of the Egyptian Spice Bazaar. You’re not going to get lost in a maze of covered streets.
Take it as it is, enjoy the experience, and then emerge into the world of crowded streets that hug the exterior walls of this fine building.
These are the streets that sell all manner of household goods and where you’ll pick up good, cheap street food.
We use Mısır Çarşısı as our historic thoroughfare to get to these streets and this is where our Istanbul shopping expedition begins.
Have you ever been to the Egyptian Spice Bazaar? What did you think?
Egyptian Spice Bazaar, Istanbul: Useful Info
- The Egyptian Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı) is in Eminönü, next to Yeni Camii (New Mosque). See map below.
- Entrance is free and it’s open 7 days a week, daytime only.
- If you’re arriving by Metro, get off at Eminönü. You can’t miss the imposing presence of Yeni Camii.
- From Taksim and Beyoğlu areas, walk down to Karaköy and cross Galata Bridge. You’ll see Mısır Çarşısı directly ahead of you.