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Spice Market - Eminonu (Egyptian Bazaar)

Spice Market, Eminonu Egyptian Bazaar

Istanbul's Spice Market or Misir Çarsisi was constructed in 1663 as a part of the adjacent Yeni Mosque complex in order to generate funds for the upkeep of the mosque. Misir in Turkish means "Egypt" and it is called The Egyptian Bazaar due to the fact that the spices came from India and South-East Asia to Egypt and from there to Istanbul via the Mediterranean Sea. Thus Istanbul marks the last stop along the legendary Silk Road. It was the final destination for Asian goods, which were then distributed to Europe. In fact, Istanbul had developed a spice trade with the Venetians as early as the 13th century.

Most Westerners traveling in the East discover before long that most of their expectations have been based on fantasy and misconceptions. There are, however, certain experiences that do fulfill the Westerners romantic urge to find the Orient. The Egyptian Market, (or Spice Market as it is often called), is one of those experiences. The inviting aromas of cinnamon, cumin, saffron, mint, thyme and every other conceivable herb and spice fill the air, even before you enter the market.

The Spice Market is teeming with customers, shopkeepers, and porters amidst a dizzying array of colors and aromas. For centuries this market has been the place where dried herbs and a variety of plants not found anywhere else in the city, as well as holistic remedies for every ailment have been sold.

Visiting the Misir Çarsisi, is not merely a way to fulfill the tourist's urge for the exotic. It is also a chance to really see and live Istanbul's traditional commercial life. You may find yourself drifting off as you purchase an assortment of spices, alternative remedies for aches and pains, and aphrodisiacs that have been tested through the centuries.

The bazaar is "L" shaped and has six gates. The shopkeepers stock all the staple flavors of Eastern cuisine and display them with an exquisite sense of color and arrangement. Cardamom, green cumin, ground red pepper, curry, sesame, ground coconut, yellow turmeric and saffron fill bags and boxes and are heaped into miniature volcanoes, while strings of dried okra, peppers and eggplant dangle temptingly overhead. Take your spirit of adventure with you to the Spice Market. The more you explore, the more unusual goods you'll manage to find. You'll find all kinds of interesting beauty products as well, such as the best henna that can be had, natural sponges, a large variety of oils and rose water, and the fabulously exfoliating hand-woven kese, which are used in Turkish baths for scrubbing.