Istanbul's Grand Bazaar, closed

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar closes its doors due to the coronavirus

As of today the historic building, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world and focus of tourism in Istanbul, remains closed to tourists as a measure against the coronavirus.

The historic Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, one of the world’s largest and oldest covered markets, has definitively closed its doors to tourists as part of measures taken in Turkey to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Until recently the place was still open to visitors between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., although it was only accessible through its two main entrances. However, since this Tuesday, all visits are prohibited and access to the premises is only allowed to store owners and their employees, who are previously subjected to identification controls.

“It is very empty inside, there is nobody,” an employee of the Grand Bazaar, where activity has been reduced to a minimum, told reporters. Mehmet Ali Kuru, a veteran owner of one of the businesses in the historic market, says that he has been working in this emblematic place in Istanbul for 79 years and has never seen anything like this. “Turkey has been through a lot … But nothing compares to this,” he stressed.

Februniye Bektaş, owner of another shop in the Grand Bazaar, confirms for her part that the building is completely empty due to fear of COVID-19. “It took me by surprise. I have a store here. I heard that the bazaar was going to be closed … I’m just going to check my store and go home,” said Bektaş. “Everyone is scared, it’s normal,” she added.

Since the beginning of February, the historic 560-year-old Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, with some 2,500 stores inside, had already experienced a drastic drop in the number of visits due to fear of the coronavirus, which although reached Turkey much later than in Europe, had considerably reduced the arrival of tourists to the country.