Please sign in to post.

Istanbul neighborhoods for specialty shopping?

Can anyone who knows Istanbul well share any suggestions for neighborhoods that have a concentration of multiple, traditional specialty shops for the same kind of products/merchandise?

We don't see this so much anymore in many large, modern cities, where most neighborhoods have become homogenized to a great degree. But for millennia, big old cities have often had entire neighborhoods dedicated to specific kinds of products, crafts, or services. For example, on previous visits to Tokyo, I discovered Kappabashi, aka "kitchen town" where the streets are lined with shop after shop selling nothing but things for your kitchen. There's also Ochanomizu, a Tokyo neighborhood where every storefront specializes in musical instruments and all other music-related products. In Bangkok, I once wandered unknowingly into what was apparently the city's primary (and vast) neighborhood for buying cut flowers.

I'm sure there are many examples like these in cities all around the world, though most tourists typically don't seek them out and they're only known to locals. Probably all great cities once had these specialty districts. These places are amazing, and even if you have no intention of stocking up on kitchen knives or guitar strings, these places are a complete hoot to wander and poke around.

I'll be going back to Istanbul in October (I was there when the pandemic blew up and we had to cut short our trip, so for me Istanbul represents some "unfinished business" and -- I'm hoping -- some "pandemic closure," too). I'm guessing that Istanbul, a huge ancient city at the crossroads of everything, and a worldwide center of trade going back forever, must have some amazing specialty shopping neighborhoods. I'd like to explore some of them.

Can anyone point me to any?  Thanks!

(Yes, of course, I know about Istanbul's very famous traditional shopping spots, particularly the Grand Bazaar, and the Spice Market, which are indeed awesome in their own right...I'm looking for other places/neighborhoods where there are concentrations of specialty shops focused on specific kinds of goods. Not shopping malls, not high-end "shopping streets" with glossy, upscale retail shops; rather, small shops, old school, not marketed for tourists, in fact probably not "marketed" at all, in the way the term is used as a today as a verb...).

Posted by
7011 posts

There are the main shopping streets, of course, like Istiklal Caddesi near Taksim Square. You can find some smaller specialty shops here as it's a very long shopping street. If you go there, definitely stop at one of the many doner kebab places along there. I did and had an incredible sandwich with lamb, fresh tomatoes and peppers and a sprinkling of salt and spices tucked inside a dense mound of fresh Turkish pita bread. I still dream of it to this day and that was 15 years ago. :)

You might enjoy the Arasta Bazaar, which is behind the Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque). I found it much quieter than the other shopping area and with a higher quality of goods. The salespeople were a little more low-key as well. They had some amazing textiles there, and I remember one shop held beautiful Iznik tiles and ceramics.

There is a street called Çukurcuma that specializes in antiques if you like that sort of thing. I passed near there but didn't stop although a friend of mine who loves antiques has been there several times and loves it.

And there are a number of flea markets in Istanbul that are fun to go through. The only one I remember is Ferikoy, which is open every Sunday, but you can just google Istanbul flea markets to find more.

Posted by
4926 posts

We tripped through such an area on our way down from Galata Tower back to the Haze Hotel, finding shops that sold every kind of home lighting, electric supply, general hardware and eventually appliances. I've put together a mini "map" of some random places that I found again on Google Maps. I probably didn't go into any of these specific places, but it gives you a starting point for your own search of any of those types of stores.

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Galata+Tower/Makrolight+Ayd%C4%B1nlatma/Goya+Aydinlatma/Hakmar/TW%C4%B0ST+AYDINLATMA/%C5%9EAN+KABLO+AYDINLATMA+VE+ELEKTR%C4%B0K+MALZEMELER%C4%B0/Kar%C4%B1nca+C%C4%B1vata+A.%C5%9E./Nefa+Yapi/Aysan+Elektrik+San.+ve+D%C4%B1%C5%9F+Tic.Ltd.%C5%9Eti./Kemanke%C5%9F+Karamustafa+Pa%C5%9Fa,+The+Haze+Hotel,+Necatibey+Caddesi,+Beyo%C4%9Flu%2F%C4%B0stanbul,+T%C3%BCrkiye/@41.0248286,28.972149,19z/data=!4m62!4m61!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e7a7777c43:0x4c76cf3dcc8b330b!2m2!1d28.9741286!2d41.025569!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9f2840d50af:0x8db1ea629e2e86fb!2m2!1d28.971972!2d41.0260574!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e62c103e2f:0x25f2200ce4973614!2m2!1d28.9717142!2d41.0258369!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e642110bdb:0x24ac3244eedb1bbb!2m2!1d28.9716194!2d41.0262129!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab07ebf07dd99:0xcab013599c375073!2m2!1d28.970874!2d41.0261838!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e672e04ac1:0x987253a4725aa177!2m2!1d28.9709036!2d41.0255066!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e60e5ce1b9:0x946161b7f742431a!2m2!1d28.9708929!2d41.0250203!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e8aad2d3af:0xc3c7f888025150ad!2m2!1d28.9702851!2d41.0242772!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e625c2c791:0xaf925326c126c9e6!2m2!1d28.9722167!2d41.0239984!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab9e8144a79f5:0xc2431c0745987f7a!2m2!1d28.9769655!2d41.0236843!3e2

Posted by
4926 posts
Posted by
4926 posts
Posted by
4926 posts
Posted by
733 posts

I definitely remember seeing plenty of those specialty shopping areas in Istanbul. Unfortunately, I don't remember exactly where in Istanbul I saw them. I recall one area that had nothing but bridal and formal dresses, and another area that had nothing but kitchen and bath stores. I had never seen anything like that before, and I was fascinated. So, yeah, those specialty areas definitely exist.

Posted by
6788 posts

@CWsocial - Those are awesome. I could spend hours wandering a neighborhood of "hardware stores" and "fishing and marine supplies shops" (even if I'm not looking for spare parts for my Evinrude or LawnBoy). I took a look at your links, virtually wandered a few streets via Google Street View, and yeah -- those are good finds. Talk about a real, authentic "backdoor" experience...boom! Thanks for the pointers.

This section of Istanbul (obviously, an old center of this old city, going back centuries) is exactly the kind of place I had in mind. I love this kind of random discovery, and I bet there are little sections of neighborhoods all around Istanbul like those. Big thanks for the pointers.

Posted by
6788 posts

I recall one area that had nothing but bridal and formal dresses, and
another area that had nothing but kitchen and bath stores

@Marie - Yes, you stumbled upon one of these districts. And now that you mention seeing the bridal dresses and formal-wear, I now recall I have stumbled into streets like this in Mexico City and other, smaller cities in Mexico -- it was clearly the neighborhood for quinceañera supplies (roughly a "sweet fifteen" birthday celebration for girls, very pervasive in Latin American countries and neighborhoods) where every shop window was filled with amazing displays of mannequins decked out in some very, very fancy outfits. Thanks for the memory jog.

It's an amazing, serendipitous delight to just be walking down some random street, going on your way to someplace else, you look up, and suddenly you realize you are in the middle of a city's (or a nation's) center of...whatever. Before there were search engines and online commerce, if you needed fish-hooks or hookas or long, flowing gowns, you would go the the neighborhood that specializes in fish-hooks or hookahs or long flowing gowns. (Nowadays, most of us would just google those specialty items.) To the locals, these are just where one goes to buy stuff, it's just "shopping" but it's so outside our experience (at least it's outside mine), it feels quite magical to find oneself in these places.

I will make a note to ask locals about a district for kitchen supplies, since it sounds like you wandered through one. That will be a pretty easy sell for my spouse (she might push back a little if I told her I wanted to go shopping in the "hardware supplies" district for a few hours, though I must give her credit for being willing to indulge a lot of my ideas that at first must sound completely crazy...).

A very cool adventure awaits.

Posted by
4926 posts

David, I will admit that our little group had fun traipsing through the neighborhoods and ducking into a few shops just for the fun of it, without being in search of anything.

I found an area that might suit both you and your wife. It's not quite the condensed area of general hardware and specialty hardware shops that literally spanned block after block, street after street.

This area has a mix that included a "variety* store that seemed to have shelves and shelves of yarns and knitting/crocheting supplies; a store selling cabinetry for kitchens, baths and bedrooms; small and large kitchen appliance stores; stores selling rugs, home textiles and furnishings; a local spice shop; a kitchen supply store selling tableware and cooking/baking supplies. And mixed in, I saw some hardware, marine supply and electronics stores. So perhaps the two of you could wander for hours and both be happy!

https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Mateka/Kuma%C5%9F+D%C3%BCnyasi+Fabric+store/%C4%B0hlas+Ma%C4%9Fazas%C4%B1/Kaya+Mobilya/Bosch/Axoy+End%C3%BCstriyel+Mutfak/FMS+Mobilya/K%C3%BC%C3%A7%C3%BCk+Piyale,+Belissa+Home+Collection,+Kas%C4%B1mpa%C5%9Fa+Zincirlikuyu+Cd.+No:45,+34440+Beyo%C4%9Flu%2F%C4%B0stanbul,+T%C3%BCrkiye/K%C3%BC%C3%A7%C3%BCk+Piyale,+Eda+Tekstil,+Kas%C4%B1mpa%C5%9Fa+Zincirlikuyu+Cd.+No:35,+34440+Beyo%C4%9Flu%2F%C4%B0stanbul,+T%C3%BCrkiye/K%C3%BC%C3%A7%C3%BCk+Piyale,+Tarihi+Eminonu+Baharat,+Kas%C4%B1mpa%C5%9Fa+Zincirlikuyu+Cd.+7%2FA,+34440+Beyo%C4%9Flu%2F%C4%B0stanbul,+T%C3%BCrkiye/@41.0358641,28.9670959,18z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m62!4m61!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab758b6778461:0x9f67a2b29101190f!2m2!1d28.9700359!2d41.0354063!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab758bfbc76ad:0xc378528f28ddd7fc!2m2!1d28.9690773!2d41.0350544!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab7dd86e83811:0xb039c2443537f20!2m2!1d28.968772!2d41.035283!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab758ea4afa3d:0xfd0d3918cce4d3af!2m2!1d28.9687198!2d41.0354972!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab75a08c79695:0x6d46e3580de94544!2m2!1d28.9682513!2d41.0356277!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab7942646a005:0xb3ae4814881f5afd!2m2!1d28.9683346!2d41.0363017!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab75903ea8cf9:0x8be5578a1c41a0cb!2m2!1d28.9678515!2d41.0369241!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab7584374b49f:0xc69b39fae0a1e04!2m2!1d28.9665394!2d41.0360731!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab758655cd681:0xff3f9d072f50b405!2m2!1d28.966731!2d41.0352792!1m5!1m1!1s0x14cab758652a16ef:0x4095fc118571352f!2m2!1d28.9669753!2d41.0346031!3e2