Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Türkiye) — You can get a lot more than spices at Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar, but spices are the undeniable stars.

Assorted spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Last Updated:

You can get much more than spices at the Spice Bazaar, but spices are the stars. They’re stacked high in mounds that are not at all like the boring little jars we get in our supermarkets. You just know that they’re going to taste better. And what colors! If you like cooking, you’ll love this place. Whether you’re after pure individual spices or mixes perfect for lamb or chicken, they’re here.

Located in the Eminonu quarter of Istanbul, next to the Galata Bridge and the New Mosque (Yeni Cami), the Spice Bazaar is one of the city’s largest and most famous markets, second only to the Grand Bazaar. It’s also known as the Egyptian Market, it’s smaller than the Grand Bazaar, but it can be just as busy. You don’t come here for Turkish rugs–the Grand Bazaar is better for that–and there’s a much stronger emphasis on food offerings like spices, nuts, dried fruits, baklava, and, of course, Turkish delight (lokum) in the traditional rose water as well as just about any flavoring you can think of. But more and more the foods are getting displaced by shops selling goods with larger profit margins like jewelry and souvenirs.

Some of the more interesting vendors are actually outside the Bazaar. Lining its exterior walls are vendors catering more to locals than tourists. There you’ll find a small fish market on one side, and on the other some shops dedicated to gardening, hardware, or even fish tank supplies. And the streets around the Spice Bazaar are especially interesting–you can find many of the same goods for sale at less touristy prices. The Rüstem Pasha Mosque nearby is also worth a look.

My favorite time down around this area is in the early evening, in the hour or two before the Spice Market closes. The Eminonu waterfront buzzes, the two plazas next to the New Mosque fill with people out and about, and the mosques fill with people.

Photos of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar

Assorted spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Spices. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Nuts and grains store at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Buying fish in Istanbul Turkey
A fish shop on one of the outside streets. I loved these lightbulbs, but when I visited again a few years later, unfortunately the bulbs had been replaced with ugly CFLs. Better for the environment and for the shop’s electricity bill, but much less photogenic. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Outside the Spice Bazaar Istanbul
One of the outside streets lining the Bazaar. One of the main entrances is at the end of this street at the very right of the frame. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Buying grains and fruits
Nuts and dried fruits. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul
A small sampling of the dozens of different spices available. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Bags of spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Its roof has been replaced with a much more stable and utilitarian roof, which is quite different from the patchier but older roof of the Grand Bazaar. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fish Market Spice Bazaar Istanbul
This is the same fish shop as the shot with the lightbulbs, above, but taken a few years later after new lightbulb regulations had kicked in. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
A store specializing in lokum (Turkish Delight) with a huge selection of flavors (some better than others). Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Nuts at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
This store occupies prime real estate on a busy street outside the market and is on the corner with the square. It always seems to be doing a roaring trade. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
No, not really. But it got your attention, right? Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Busy street at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
A busy street inside the covered part of the Bazaar. You can see some of the tourist stores that have come in selling the colored glass lamps and earthenware. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Cinnamon and other spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Cinnamon and other spices. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Many of the shops are essentially basic market stalls. This delicatessen is one of the fancier and more-established permanent stores. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Rose Water Turkish Delight
Lokum (aka Turkish Delight). Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Nuts and dried fruits store at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Nuts and dried fruits. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice store at the Egyption Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Inside one of the more established stores. Some of these places can vacuum seal your spices to make them easier to travel with (check with your local customs rules before flying home with them, of course). Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Constainers of spices at the Spice Bazaar Istanbul Turkey
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Istanbul alleyway at night
One of the alleyways surrounding the main part of the market. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

More About Istanbul Spice Bazaar

  • Officially named the Mısır Çarşısı, which means “Egyptian Bazaar”
  • Established in 1660 as part of the adjacent Yeni Mosque complex
  • Features more than 85 shops spanning over 3,200 square meters
  • Originally a hub for the spice trade between Europe and the East
  • Also known for selling dried fruits, nuts, oils, traditional sweets, and herbal teas

The Istanbul Spice Bazaar, also known as the Mısır Çarşısı or Egyptian Bazaar, is a historical market situated in the Eminönü quarter of Istanbul, Turkey. Established in 1660, the bazaar was constructed as a part of the Yeni Mosque complex, which aimed to generate funds for the mosque’s maintenance. The bazaar covers an area of over 3,200 square meters (3,445 square feet) and houses more than 85 shops.

Originally a center for the spice trade between Europe and the East, the Spice Bazaar has evolved over time to offer a wider variety of goods. Today, visitors can find not only spices, but also dried fruits, nuts, oils, traditional sweets, and herbal teas. The bazaar is a significant cultural attraction, where locals and tourists alike can explore the rich history and culinary traditions of the region.

While the Spice Bazaar remains a popular destination for sourcing local ingredients, it is also an important center for the trade of textiles, jewelry, and souvenirs. The vibrant atmosphere of the market, characterized by the enticing aromas of various spices, makes for an unforgettable experience and offers a unique glimpse into Istanbul’s historical trading culture.

What’s Nearby to Istanbul Spice Bazaar

How to Get to Istanbul Spice Bazaar

  • Located in the Eminönü quarter of Istanbul, Turkey
  • Nearest airport: Istanbul Airport (IST)
  • Nearest tram station: Eminönü Tram Station (T1 Line)

34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey

What to Know Before You Go

  • The Spice Bazaar is down near the waterfront of Eminonu, near the Galata Bridge and next to the New Mosque (Yeni Cami). It’s next to the Eminonu tram stop on the T1 line. From Beyoglu, it’s across the Galata Bridge, or you can also get a ferry to Eminonu.
  • The Spice Bazaar is a lot smaller than the Grand Bazaar and is laid out of two covered “streets” at a right angle, so you’re unlikely to get lost.
  • It gets crowded later in the day, but that’s when it’s at its best.
  • The Spice Bazaar keeps slightly different hours to the Grand Bazaar. The most significant difference is that it’s open on Sundays (the Grand Bazaar is closed on Sundays).
  • Many of the vendors can vacuum seal your spices, making it easier and cleaner to pack them in your luggage. But do check with your local customs rules before flying home with them–some countries have very strict rules about such things. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to declare them.
  • If you’re looking to cook some Turkish cuisine, here’s a handy guide to some useful spices to pick up. And if you’re looking for a very good Turkish cookbook, this one is my favorite.

Want to Read More About Istanbul?

Istanbul is a city of extraordinary depth and history. If you’re looking to dive deeper, here are some books worth a look. (Some are also available as audiobooks—great for a long flight or train ride.)

Istanbul: Memories and the City, by Orhan Pamuk

In this memoir, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author reflects on his childhood and youth in Istanbul, offering a rich portrayal of the city’s history, culture, and ever-changing landscape.

Istanbul: Memories and the City (Paperback)
  • OrhanPamuk (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain

This classic travelogue follows Mark Twain as he journeys through Europe and the Holy Land, including a visit to Istanbul, which he captures with his trademark wit and humor.

The Innocents Abroad: Original Illustrations
  • Twain, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City, by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely

This comprehensive guide and travelogue takes readers on a historical and cultural journey through Istanbul, detailing its most famous landmarks and hidden gems.

Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City
  • Sumner-Boyd, Hilary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andrić

This historical novel, by a winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, is set in the Ottoman Empire. It tells the story of the construction of the famous Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the lives of the people who lived around it. While not set in Istanbul specifically, it offers a window into the wider region’s history and Ottoman influence.

The Bridge on the Drina (Phoenix Fiction)
  • Andric, Ivo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat, by Jeremy Seal

This travelogue follows the author’s journey through Turkey, including a visit to Istanbul, as he explores the country’s history, culture, and politics, all while searching for the once-iconic fez hat.

A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat
  • Seal, Jeremy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Birds Have Also Gone, by Yashar Kemal

In this novel, set in Istanbul, the author tells the story of three boys who capture and sell pigeons in the city, offering a unique perspective on the city’s rapidly changing landscape and the challenges faced by its inhabitants.

The Birds Have Also Gone
  • Yaşar Kemal (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay

This satirical travelogue (i.e., a novel) follows the narrator as she embarks on an eccentric journey to Istanbul and the ancient city of Trebizond, exploring themes of love, religion, and the clash of cultures.

The Towers of Trebizond: A Novel (FSG Classics)
  • Macaulay, Rose (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Spice Bazaar FAQs

What is the Spice Bazaar?

The Spice Bazaar, also known as the Egyptian Bazaar, is a famous market in Istanbul, Turkey that sells a variety of spices, herbs, nuts, sweets, and other culinary delights.

When was the Spice Bazaar built?

The Spice Bazaar was built in the 17th century, during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I.

What is the address of the Spice Bazaar?

The Spice Bazaar’s address is Eminönü, Rüstem Paşa Mahallesi, Erzak Ambarı Sok. No:92, 34116 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey.

What are the opening hours of the Spice Bazaar?

The Spice Bazaar is open every day of the week, from 8:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

What is the best time to visit the Spice Bazaar?

The best time to visit the Spice Bazaar is during the morning when it is less crowded and the vendors are more energetic.

More to Check Out

If you enjoyed this, these might also be of interest:

Images and product information from Amazon PA-API were last updated on 2024-06-23 at 15:46. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon Site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Travel Advice for Turkey (Turkiye)

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Turkey (Turkiye) (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Turkey (Turkiye) here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Turkey (Turkiye) here.

General Information on Turkey (Turkiye)

The CIA's World Factbook contains a lot of good factual information Turkey (Turkiye) and is updated frequently.

  • Official Name: Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti)
  • Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (the Anatolian Peninsula), bordered by eight countries: Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Iraq and Syria to the south
  • Coastline: Mediterranean Sea to the south, Aegean Sea to the west, and Black Sea to the north
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Largest City: Istanbul
  • Population (2021 estimate): 85 million
  • Ethnic Groups: Predominantly Turkish (70-75%), Kurds (19%), and other minorities (including Arabs, Circassians, and Laz)
  • Official Language: Turkish
  • Religions: Islam (predominantly Sunni), with small Christian and Jewish communities
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • President (as of 2021): Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Prime Minister (as of 2021): Not applicable (the position was abolished in 2018)
  • Area: 783,356 square kilometers (302,455 square miles)
  • GDP (2021 estimate): $771 billion (nominal)
  • GDP per capita (2021 estimate): $9,042 (nominal)
  • Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
  • Time Zone: GMT+3 (Turkey Time)
  • Internet TLD: .tr
  • Calling Code: +90
  • Major Industries: Textiles, food processing, automotive, electronics, tourism, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
  • Natural Resources: Coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite, emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites, clay, hydropower, arable land

Turkey vs Turkiye vs Türkiye

The country's name has traditionally been Anglicized as Turkey, and that's how most of us have always known it. But the country's government has been pushing for adoption of the Turkish-language name, Türkiye. Since that doesn't always work well on Anglicized keyboards, you also often see it rendered as Turkiye. You can find more information on this here.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »