Historical Story of Grand Bazaar, the First and Largest Mall in Europe

Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4.000 shops on a total area of 30.700 m² attracting 250.000-400.000 visitors daily. In 2014, it was listed number #1 among the World’s Most Visited tourist attractions with more than 91 million annual visitors. The Grand Bazar at Istanbul is often regarded as one of the first shopping malls of the world.

The construction of the future Grand Bazaar’s core started during the winter of 1455/56, shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople and was part of a broader initiative to stimulate economic prosperity in Istanbul. At the beginning of the 17th century the Grand Bazaar had already achieved its final shape.

The enormous extent of the Ottoman Empire in three continents, and the total control of road communications between Asia and Europe, rendered the Bazaar and the surrounding taverns or public houses the hub of the Mediterranean trade. In the Bazaar there were 67 roads (each bearing the name of the sellers of a particular good), several squares used for the daily prayers, 5 mosques, 7 fountains, 18 gates which were opened each day in the morning and closed in the evening.

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