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In Bazaar Istanbul, Flora Montgomery visits Istanbul, famously the only city in the world that stretches over two continents, which has made it a major stopping point for trade travelling from east to west. Laden with history, craftsmanship and modern design Istanbul is a shopping paradise that caters to every need.

Flora’s first stop is the Grand Bazaar, a beautiful maze of stone and marble that was built in the 15th century by the city’s first Ottoman ruler. It is still among the world’s largest covered markets and offers everything from carpets to jewellery, pottery, and tourist tat. The key is to know where to look!

The Osman family has been trading carpets for generations and can judge a piece by just looking at it, but they teach Flora a simple trick to judge the quality of a carpet.

The bazaar is also home to excellent craftsmen and Flora purchases a golden necklace that is based on a 2000-year old design, before admiring the amazing skill of a calligrapher who covers dried leaves with such small writing that it can only be read through a looking glass.

For a bit of respite Flora checks into her hotel, an 18th century mansion right on the Bosporus that was once home to a famous calligrapher before heading for lunch at Matbah, a restaurant that only serves Ottoman recipes as they were served at court.

The Ottomans ruled a mighty empire from Istanbul for more than 400 years and they have left a rich culinary heritage, awash with interesting names and unusual combinations. After a feast worthy of a sultan Flora heads to an old Ottoman school where today some of the ancient crafts are revived, including that of calligraphy, which is said to have been developed to write down the words of the prophet

At the same place she also witnesses the ancient technique of paper marbling, a popular form of decoration used by early Turkish tribes. Istanbul’s rich heritage makes it a haven for antiques, many of which can be found in the district of Cukurcuma. A La Turca is one of the best shops in the area, offering interior design from Ottoman times, as well as those inspired by the past.

In the upmarket area of Nisantisi the local designer Gonul Paksoy also makes designs inspired by the past. Her creations are clothes that are a true works of art, many of them incorporating antique fabrics. Ancient designs are used in an array of modern creations, including sun glasses. Flora’s last stop is Murat Optik where she picks up a beautiful pair of handmade sunglasses from a brand that has been worn by Lady Gaga and P Diddy.


A warm thanks goes out to the following people and companies, without whom the filming of Bazaar Istanbul would not have been possible!

Turkish Culture & Tourism Office
4th Floor, 29-30 St. James’s Street
London, SW1A 1HB
T: 0207 8397778
F: 0207 925 1388

Istanbul Personal Shopper
T: +90 536 884 9226
Kathy has been living in Istanbul for more than 15 years now and that means she knows to shop in Istanbul. Combining the sensibilities of a foreign visitor with the knowhow of a local Kathy will put together a personalised shopping spree according to request. From weekend visitors to foreign royalty Kathy has seen them all and helped them to find the best places and prices – without the hassle.

Trump Travel

The Ritz Carlton Hotel
Istanbul Lobby Office
T: +90 212 293 9805

The best choice for getting around Istanbul in style Trump Travel offer a fleet of chauffeur driven luxury cars. They know their way around town (and all the prime spots), and they speak English!

The House Hotel
Firuzağa Mah. Bostanbaşı Cad. No19
Beyoğlu. 34425, Istanbul
T: +90 212 252 04 22
F: +90 212 245 23 07

There are 12 “house” locations sprinkled across the funkier parts of town, including cafes, restaurants, 3 hotels and an apart hotel, all of which reflect Istanbul’s latest style. They are places to see and be seen that offer excellent food and service as well as a home away from home.

A La Turca
aikpasa No. 4 Cukurcuma, Cihangir Istanbul
T: +90 212 2452933
M: +90 532 3143681

This interior design shop is a treasure trove filled with antiques and Ottoman inspired designs that invites to long afternoons of rummaging, while owner Erkal Aksoy regales you with witty conversation and tips on what to do and see in Istanbul. He doesn’t just have immaculate taste, he also knows everyone.

Gonul Paksoy
Atiye Sokak 1/3, Teşvikiye, Istanbul
T: +90 212 261 9081

For fashion that is a true work of art head to Gonul Paksoy’s shop in Nisantisi. Her unique creations use only the finest fabrics hand dyed with natural dyes.

Sisko Osman
Kapalıçarşı Zincirli Han No: 15 34126 İstanbul
T: +90 212 528 35 48 , F: +90 212 526 72 87

Matbah Restaurant
Ottoman Hotel Imperial Cankurtaran Mh., Caferiye Sokak 6, 34400 Fatih, Turkey
T: +90 212 513 6151

Murat Optik

Places Mentioned - Turkey

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