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Istanbul: visit the Spice Market

Spice Market Istanbul

Feast your eyes upon the Spice Market

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.

Spice Market

Mustafa’s shop Antolia in the Spice Market

Jasmine tea

Buy a jasmine flower and make tea

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!)

Turkish Delight Istanbul

Mustafa makes my Turkish delight selection

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!

Apricots Spice Market Istanbul

Teethy apricots!

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!

Yeni mosque

Stop and people-watch at Yeni Mosque


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.

Read my post about my harrowing hamam experience next! >>

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!