Sultanahmet is one of the most beautiful spots in Istanbul with its historical texture. Countless places make this historical area special. Arasta Bazaar is among these places. Let's take a look at the past and present of this special bazaar together.
Arasta is a historical bazaar where traditional carpets, rugs, souvenirs, spices, and tiles are sold. It is located on the north wing of Torun Street, just behind the Blue Mosque. The bazaar is a narrow street with more than seventy shops.
Arasta Bazaar was built on the Byzantine ruins. During the excavations carried out in the 1930s, mosaics belonging to the Byzantine Palace were found in the bazaar area. Since the bazaar has such a heritage, it is home to the Great Palace Mosaics Museum. The museum contains the partially intact mosaic floor covering the northeastern part of the cloistered courtyard of the Great Palace, used during the Byzantine Period. Only 180 square meters of the mosaic area have survived.
The artworks exhibited in the Great Palace Mosaics Museum are dated between 450-550 AD. The mosaics in the museum depicting daily life, nature, and mythology look very vivid even today.
Arasta Bazaar was damaged by fire in 1912. It remained in ruins for a long time, and the area was filled with slums. However, in the 1980s, the General Directorate of Foundations cleared the bazaar area from slums and repaired it. The bazaar was opened for use after a comprehensive repair and restoration.
In addition to shops, there is also a cafe in the bazaar. Moreover, if you are lucky, you can come across the occasional Mevlevi Sema ceremonies here.
You can have a wonderful Istanbul experience by visiting the bazaar and buying souvenirs.