The Grand Bazaar: a new look?
Istanbul is a magnificent city in Turkey and it holds a lot of amazing structures, one of which is the Grand Bazaar which is considered as the world’s oldest shopping areas. This is a massive space with labyrinthine paths and dates back to 550 years old already. Right now, there is a dilemma regarding this old structure: how do you mix old with the new but retain its character? The market extends to 60 streets and it holds a mountain full of products from 4000 stores selling spices, carpets, jewelry, and many others. According to the shop keepers, this bazaar needs some makeover.
The shopkeepers are saying that the appeal of the bazaar is being marred by dysfunctional air conditioning, bad odors, bad toilet rooms as well as roofs that are leaking, bringing inconvenience to the shoppers and the shop owners. According to Mayor Mustafa Demir, around $100 million is planned to be used for the renovations and restorations in order to do the job well by expert surveyors and restorers. The overall shape and structure of the Grand bazaar cannot be changed but with some little additions and improvements, there will be significant changes.
The Grand Bazaar is full of historical events. In the 15th century, the Bazaar was very critical for the trade of the city. The bazaar was created for Mehmet the Conqueror and at the 16th century, it was expanded under the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. The aim of Mehmet was to revive the trade in the city and also to bring more international relations and he invited Armenians, Levantines, Jews and Turks. They used the place to sell goods. The bazaar experienced fires as well as earthquakes and it has been restored a number of times. The aim of the restoration is to enhance and not to change.
This historical trade center attracts around 300 thousand people each day and some estimates suggest that the combined revenue for all the shops can equal to one and a half billion dollars. The plans for the restoration can take some time since the massive structure is very complex. There is no intention to create a new look to the bazaar. Its historical appeal is beautiful enough for it to sustain itself as a must see place. However, it requires a little fix on the structure that could end up making the bazaar a hazard to some businesses. Keeping this bazaar in good shape is keeping half a millennium full of historical treasures as well as a billion dollar industry from the shops that are selling goods here.
People are holding their breaths as to how the renovations will actually take shape. Some shop keepers are also awaiting what will happen. However, restoring this structure is a work of experts and it cannot be done half heartedly. Soon, the world will be able to see a new air of freshness to this ancient complex but it will still hold amazing stories and historical value for the people of Istanbul.