The Spice Bazaar (Turkish: Mısır Çarşısı, meaning Egyptian Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in the Eminönü quarter of the Fatih district, it is the most famous covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar.
There are several documents suggesting the name of the bazaar was first “New Bazaar”. The building was endowed to thefoundation of the New Mosque, and got its name “Egyptian Bazaar” (Turkish: Mısır Çarşısı) because it was built with the revenues from the Ottoman eyalet of Egypt in 1660. The word mısır has a double meaning in Turkish: “Egypt” and “maize”. This is why sometimes the name is wrongly translated as “Corn Bazaar”. The bazaar was (and still is) the center for spice trade in Istanbul, but in the last years more and more shops of other type are replacing the spice shops.
The building itself is part of the külliye (complex) of the New Mosque. The revenues obtained from the rented shops inside the bazaar building were used for the upkeeping of themosque.
The structure was designed by the court architect Koca Kasım Ağa, but the construction works began under the supervision of another court architect, Mustafa Ağa, in the last months of 1660; following the Great Fire of Istanbul (1660) that began on 24 July 1660 and, lasting for slightly more than two days (circa 49 hours, according to the chronicles of Abdi Pasha), destroyed many neighbourhoods in the city. A major rebuilding and redevelopment effort started in the city following the fire, which included the resumption of the New Mosque’s construction works in 1660 (halted between 1603 and 1660, the construction of the mosque was ultimately completed between 1660 and 1665) and the beginning of the Spice Bazaar’s construction in the same year (all buildings in the New Mosque külliye, including the Spice Bazaar, were commissioned by Sultana Turhan Hatice, the Valide Sultan (Queen Mother) of Sultan Mehmed IV.)
Egyptian Bazaar Today
Spice Bazaar has a total of 85 shops selling spices, Turkish delight and other sweets, jewellery, souvenirs, and dried fruits and nuts.
The opening hours are 09:00 am to 19:00 pm during weekdays and Saturday; from 10:00 am to 18:00 pm on Sundays. Spice Bazaar is closed during religious and public holidays.