Even if you’ve never visited Turkey, you’ve no doubt heard about Turkish bazaars. Loud, crowded, and odoriferous, bazaars (“pazar” in Turkish) have been the mainstay of neighborhood commerce in Turkey for centuries. As such, visiting a Turkish bazaar is usually a delightful, stimulating cultural experience. One recent Saturday afternoon, I took the opportunity to walk through the bustling Īhsaniye bazaar with my phone camera, and I thought I’d share a few of those snapshots here.
Some bazaars, like the one in Bursa’s downtown historical area, are open every day. Most neighborhood bazaars, however, are temporarily set up for a single day and torn down that evening. Farmers and merchants bring in their goods early in the morning to sell from tables and booths. In the evening, they pack up and head home or move on to the location the of next day’s neighborhood bazaar.
Turkish bazaars are loud, clamoring, sometimes confusing affairs. To an outsider, a bazaar may seem like utter chaos. Shoppers crowd and push their way from booth to booth, while sellers try to woo them from every direction. It’s common to see salesmen standing on top of their tables yelling out phrases such as “hoş geldiniz” (welcome), “buyurun” (tell me how I can help you), and “on lira, on lira, on lira” (ten lira, ten lira, ten lira) with such force and conviction that I worry about some of them blowing a blood vessel. But such commotion seems perfectly normal, and I’ve witnessed many a shouting seller surrounded by a host of shoppers frantically digging through a pile of goods looking for the next great bargain.
You can find most anything for sale at a Turkish bazaar. Jewelry, handbags, rugs, pots and pans, socks and underwear, plastic toys, potatoes and onions, apples, walnuts, cheese, fresh fish, pickled beets, and sometimes even live animals are just a few items you can buy at most bazaars. And though I’ve never really mastered the art of negotiation, bartering at the bazaar is common even though prices are already far lower than stores and supermarkets.
What I appreciate most about the neighborhood bazaar is that it feels like a community event. As I walk through the weekly market, I run into friends and neighbors and we exchange pleasantries. I say hello to my regular vendors and they ask me how the family is doing. I sit down in my buddy’s tea shop and sip a cup of tea and talk news and sports. Frequenting the neighborhood bazaar makes me feel a little more like part of the community.
When you’re in Turkey, a trip to the neighborhood bazaar is a highly recommended experience. In Bursa, you can visit the downtown bazaar on most days of the week. For a more neighborhood feel, visit the Çarşamba bazaar behind Osmangazi metro station, the Gökdere bazaar on the east end of the city center, or the Saturday İhsaniye bazaar just a short walk from Nilüfer station.