If you’ve just arrived in Istanbul, the Spice Market is a good intro to get your market face on and learn how to trade Turkish style. Once you’ve got your training wheels on here, you are ready for the Grand Bazaar…
This L-shaped covered market has been trading spices and dried fruits since 1664 and is a must-see for photographers, foodies and souvenir gatherers alike. It’s the centre for spice trade in Istanbul and buzzing with locals and tourists.
We called at Anatolia at number 11, just another shop squashed along the covered arcade, but our local “guide” Idris knew the owner’s family. Business and Turkish hospitality go hand in hand, and this would not be the first time we were offered apple tea while deciding on our purchases.
I had already learned that spices can be vacuum packed for taking home, so spent about €50 on a scoop of gorgeous dried rose flower tea, another scoop of dried apple tea, 6 dried jasmine flowers which I shall pop into a cup of boiling water for yet more delicious tea.
I bought a shovel each of Mustafa’s own blended meat spices with paprika, chili, herbs, salt and other secret ingredients that I tasted a pinch of, a bag of his salad spice, and a bag of Turkish saffron (the top of the range Iranian saffron would have been more than my airfare!)
Then because you can’t possibly come to the Spice Market and not also buy Turkish Delight, I had Mustafa make me a selection of all sorts of his fresh, sticky delight which I am slowly working through back at my hotel.
You’ll find more than spices here though. I loved the hand embroidered cushion covers here (yes, sold). And because it’s not as crazy huge here or as busy as the Grand Bazaar, I think these were easier to see. Or maybe they’re just better!
Dried fruits are elaborately cut and stuffed with almonds so that they look like teethy apricot grins, fresh dates and dried figs – even kiwifruit. You’ll get salty cows milk and goats milk cheeses, and this was the first place I saw the plethora of ceramic bowls. In the Grand Bazaar you will find hundreds, and as they are handpainted, albeit of the same or similar designs, they do vary.
Once you’ve bought your spices, come and sit on the steps of the mosque and people-watch. That’s what travel is all about!
The Spice Market is located near the Yeni Mosque overlooking the Bosphorus. Nearest Metro stop Eminonu, at the Galata Bridge where the famous fish restaurants are.