Grand Bazaar restoration to be completed in three months
Restoration at Istanbul’s glorious Grand Bazaar, the world’s largest and oldest covered market, will be completed in three months’ time after a year-and-a-half long restoration process.
The restoration which began with efforts to replace the tiles in the commercial and tourist venue had begun on July 14, 2016 after a six-year preparation process to address locals’ concerns.
Istanbul’s tourist magnet now has a better look - at least from above.
The 554-year-old bazaar, known as “Kapalıçarşı” in Turkish, now has sturdy red bricks tiled on its roof, which no longer has satellites and water tanks perched on it, Doğan News Agency reported.
Although the restoration did help the bazaar look better from above, the most significant fix in the historic structure was technical.
The tourist hotspot, which also featured in the James Bond film “Skyfall,” will no longer suffer flooding, at least for a century, said Mustafa Demir, mayor of the Fatih district.
“We cleaned the water-proof pipes from inside by opening, fixing, and then closing them,” Demir said.
The governor, confirming the restoration would be completed within three months, said a project to install a central heating and cooling system was awaiting grants from a council. Air conditioners will be removed from the roofs once the funds are granted, Demir said.
Demir also said some shopkeepers had dug holes to make storage space in the historic structure, which is believed to attract nearly 92 million tourists on average every year. A change in the bazaar’s management is aiming to prevent these from happening, he said.
The initial stage of the restoration started in the roof, and after seven months of meticulous efforts the first tiles began to be placed.
After lifting the old tiles, authorities have reached the concrete part of the building, which was followed by repairing damages that occurred over the years. The roof was then covered with water-proof material and tiles were placed after that.
The water tanks, of which most weigh a ton, were lifted from the roof, and the process of replacing air conditioners and satellite dishes were done carefully and in accordance with plans to avoid causing visual pollution and harm to the historic building.
The construction of the covered bazaar began during the era of Fatih the Conqueror in 1455. With the city in need of a trade center for goods coming in from all over the nascent Ottoman Empire, the Grand Bazaar expanded rapidly. Guilds, or “lonca” associations in Turkish, controlled all artisans or merchants in the bazaar during the Ottoman era, as was the case for all cities under the empire.
The Grand Bazaar has 22 gates, 64 streets and 3,600 shops, and covers nearly 31,000 square meters of land.