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The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, encompassing a total of 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops. Despite a steady rise in modern shopping malls in Turkey, the Grand Bazaar is still the most visited tourist attraction in the country. In 2014, it became the most visited tourist attractions in the entire world with over 91 million annual visitors.

The Grand Bazaar was commissioned by Sultan Mehmet II in the winter of 1455-56 shortly after the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul in 1453. In the beginning, the Grand Bazaar traded only in textiles and was called Cevâhir Bedestan or “Bedesten of Gems”, where the word “bedesten” meant "bazaar of the cloth sellers” in Persian. The Grand Bazaar was a brick and wood structure with large vaulted arches, and walls built by plastering over bricks or stone.

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Photo credit: Neil Howard/Flickr

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