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Istanbul's Grand Bazaar to celebrate its 550th anniversary

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News | 12/21/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The 550th birthday of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s historical trade district Fatih will be celebrated with a ceremony on Sunday. (PHOTO GALLERY)

The 550th birthday of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul’s historical trade district Fatih will be celebrated with a ceremony on Sunday during which the pianist Tuluyhan Uğurlu will give a concert featuring music from his album “Forever Istanbul.”

Fatih Municipality Mayor Mustafa Demir said the Grand Bazaar stands for values representing the common heritage of mankind and would host cultural events just as the Istanbul European Capital of Culture 2010 did this year.

“After the conclusion of Istanbul European Capital of Culture activities this Sunday, the Grand Bazaar will take on the mission of offering a variety of activities every month,” Demir said during a press meeting held in the old covered bazaar, inviting Istanbul people to the first special event on Tuesday.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Istanbul's Grand Bazaar marks 550th year ahead of major renovations

The Shopping Festival is an event that will be offered within the scope of Grand Bazaar activities, said Demir, adding that shopping malls will offer 40 days and nights of shopping activities all around Istanbul from March 18 to April 30.

Restoration work is also planned for the historical bazaar’s unique mosaics and domes. With support of the traders, 98 percent of whom are property owners, the municipality will begin restoration and renovation soon.

“Through this project, we want to create a modern life center so that this bazaar can survive. The project will cost approximately 15 million Turkish Liras,” said Demir.

He said restoration work would be covered in certain parts of the bazaar so tourists and tradespeople would not be disturbed and that a team of 20 architects and 20 logistics experts would contribute to the project.

“Hopefully, the Grand Bazaar will take its new shape in 2012,” said Demir.

Uğurlu will take the stage on Kalpakçılar Street at 3 p.m. on Sunday and said this would be his fifth performance in the Grand Bazaar.

“Bringing music from the concert halls to historical sites not only gives me a feeling of déjà vu, but also rescues this type of music from the dominance of the elite,” said Uğurlu.

Uğurlu has also given concerts at the historical Haydarpaşa and Sirkeci train stations, Beyazıt State Library and a variety of provinces in Turkey. Following Uğurlu’s performance, the Fatih Municipality’s mehter group will perform traditional Ottoman military music.

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[HH] Grand Bazaar

The Grand Bazaar (Kapalıçarşı) in Istanbul is one of the largest covered markets in the world with 60 streets and 5,000 shops. It attracts between 250,000 and 400,000 visitors daily. It is well known for its jewelry, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroidered work, spices and antique shops. Many of the stalls in the bazaar are grouped by types of goods, with special areas for leather, gold, jewelry and much more.

The bazaar has been an important trading center since 1461 and its labyrinth-like vaults feature two domed buildings, the first of which was constructed between 1455 and 1461 on the order of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. The bazaar was vastly enlarged in the 16th century, during the reign of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent, and in 1894 underwent a major restoration following an earthquake.

The complex houses two mosques, four fountains, two hamams, and several cafés and restaurants. In the center is the high-domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, where the most valuable items and antiques were to be found in the past, and still are today, including furniture, copperware, amber prayer beads, inlaid weapons and icons.

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