In October 2011, I went on a trip to Turkey and brought along some field recording gear to capture some of the sounds of the country. I have already blogged about recordings of paramotors at The international Air Games in Ölüdeniz, as well as the Islamic call to prayer. This post is going to be about the Spice Bazaar located in downtown Istanbul.
Istanbul is an old city, something North American's can have a hard time wrapping our heads around since our historical landmarks pale in comparison. The building containing the Spice Bazaar is part of the large complex of the Yeni Mosque. This mosque is known locally by the colloquialism "The New Mosque", because there are so many much older mosques in the area. Construction on this "new" mosque began in 1597. 1597! That's 23 years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock...... and that's the NEW mosque!
Bazaars are some of the main pulls for tourists in Istanbul, imagine a high end flea market housed within a 400 year old building and you start to get the idea. The Grand Bazaar is the busiest and most famous and is impressive in its size and diversity. Yet I much preferred the Spice Bazaar. It is much smaller, maybe one tenth as big as the Grand Bazaar, and also feels a bit less like a tourist trap. The Grand sells everything under the sun in its massive maze of shops, while the Spice Bazaar concentrates mostly on edible delights. My favourite part was the amazing colours of all the various foods, spices and powders for sale.
The people working in the shops had a schtick where they would try to guess where you were from, based on your accent. I was consistently asked if I was American, and they were always disappointed to find out they had not guessed correctly, and I was Canadian. When one of the sellers did guess Canadian I had a weird national pride well up and I ended up purchasing some snacks from the fellow. They were very delicious, as was everything purchased at the Bazaar.