Istanbul, Turkey, October 2, 2006 – Ever since its days at the center of
the Silk Road connecting Europe and Asia, Turkey has offered shoppers an
incomparable selection of goods presented in a variety of inviting
environments, from open street markets and covered bazaars, to modern
shopping malls and designer boutiques.
In the larger cities such as Istanbul, visitors can explore entire
neighborhoods devoted to the art of shopping. Not far from the
world-famous Grand Bazaar is Istanbul’s Sultanahmet district, filled with
diverse boutiques and stores that present shoppers with an irresistible
assortment of handmade goods. A great place to brush up on Turkish
pazarlik (bargaining), the Sultanahmet district offers everything from
handmade cushions, rugs and Turkish home décor items, to hand-blown
glassware, musical instruments and fine jewelry. The district’s leather
shops have hundreds of designs and colors, and many can custom-design items
to shoppers’ personal tastes. True to Turkish tradition, visitors can also
find a specialty store in Sultanahmet devoted to belly dancing costumes and
jewelry, where customers can learn the famed art of belly dancing as they
peruse the colorful selections.
At the center of Istanbul, shoppers congregate at Istiklal Street in
Beyoglu. Beginning at Taksim Square, bargain hunters pore over the shelves
of tempting boutiques selling clothing and accessories. Great deals can
also be found at Horhor Bit Pazari (Flea Market) behind Aksaray Mosque: its
seven stories and 220 stores offer everything from collectible antiques, to
rare Ottoman furniture.
Fashionistas find top designer brands of clothing in Istanbul’s
Nisantasi district and on the Asian side of the Bosphorus in Bagdat
Caddesi. Well-known designers like Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss have set up
stores, alongside quaint cafés where shoppers can relax and enjoy their
treasures. Other high-end shops line the aisles of Kanyon Mall on
Büyükdere Avenue. Istanbul’s first mega-mall complex, it offers shoppers
everything from books and electronics, to children’s toys and cosmetics.
Artisans’ workshops and village bazaars in Turkey’s smaller cities and
countryside offer visitors a chance to experience first-hand and appreciate
the time and painstaking detail that goes into making some of the country’s
most precious and intricate crafts. In Ankara, visitors can stroll through
the “high-society bazaar” known as Asagi Ayranci Pazari. The city of
Izmir’s Alaçati Antika Pazari is packed with vendors selling both food and
antiques from Izmir, Ankara and Bursa. And at Bolu’s Köylü Pazari,
shoppers can interact with over 600 villagers (mostly women) who sell their
homemade food there every Monday. With specific regions specializing in
particular artistries, exploring each area of Turkey gives travelers the
opportunity to take home unique mementos of their visit, as meaningful
reminders of this diverse, rich culture.
One of the most sought-after items, luxurious Turkish carpets vary in
size, design, purpose, and materials, depending on their region of origin.
Those traveling along the Aegean coast can find lamb’s wool carpets
with rare patterns, rich in dark indigo blue and red colors, made in
nomad-inhabited villages. The Kayseri area is well-known for its
intricately-designed rugs and kilims in both silk and wool. And in Hereke
(near Istanbul), the hand-knotted rugs are world-renowned for their
exquisite designs and elaborate patterns.
Jewelry aficionados flock to Turkey for its wide selection of fine
jewelry. One-of-a-kind pieces lend glamour and old-world charm to
marketplaces and shops everywhere, and especially in Istanbul’s Grand
Bazaar and Egyptian Spice Market. Though antique pieces of jewelry are
found in abundance, vendors also sell more modern forms of 18K and 24K
gold, as well as silver.
For a traditional piece of Turkish jewelry, visitors favor Boncuk. This
blue “little magic stone” protects its wearer from Nazar, better known as
the Evil Eye. Stemming from a superstitious folk tale, Boncuk charms are
found all over the country. They make perfect souvenirs to bring back to
family and friends interested in Turkish culture and traditions.
Tiles and Ceramics
The Turkish art of ceramic tile-making reached its peak in the 17th
century, blending elements from cultures which had left their mark on
Turkish arts over the ages-Greek, Roman, Arabic, Seljuk and Ottoman. A
wide range of ceramics can be found in most areas of the country. Iznik is
well-known for its colorful, floral, hand-painted tiles and pottery, while
potters from Canakkale are famed for their red clay jugs and bowls with
complex, bold designs.
For information about travel to Turkey, call 1-877-FOR-TURKEY or contact
the Turkish Culture and Tourism Offices in New York at 212-687-2194, in
Washington D.C. at 202-612-6800, or in Los Angeles at 323-937-8066 and