Welcome to Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey! When I was here for the first time I felt like Scheherazade, the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights.
I know, Turkey is not an Arabian country but it’s Islamic land, so that you can see the Islamic/Persian art everywhere. Today I’d love to show you one of the neatest places in Istanbul. It’s very silent.
The place is called Sahaflar Çarşısı.
Sahaflar Çarşısı is an Old Book Bazaar. Its history dates back to 15th century which means that Sahaflar Çarşısı has existed since Byzantine times! If you are interested in old books, illuminated manuscripts, or miniatures, you definitely MUST visit it.
“Whatever book you are looking for, the shopkeepers in this area will have it and best of all, their pricing is fair and sometimes a bargain. Many of the shopkeepers speak English and all of them know who has what and where to get several versions of the genre you are interested in. I started reading Turkish a few years ago and this is where I bought my children’s books in Turkish to read. If you are a book aficionado, you will LOVE this market.”
– Traveler Review from TripAdvisor.com
Calligraphies, old hand written books, maps, Qur’ans, world coins, old postcards and photographs, used books, new books (in English as well), or shadow play figures for the typical Turkish shadow puppet theatre Karagöz & Hacivat.
All these things you can find here in Sahaflar Çarşısı.
At the centre of its courtyard is a bust of İbrahim Müteferrika (1674–1745), the man who introduced printing press to The Ottoman Empire and who printed the first book in The Ottoman Empire in 1732.
Orhan Pamuk on Buying Books in Sahaflar Çarşısı
Maybe you know the most famous Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk, recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. Do you? I love his novels, especially Snow.
If you love his books, then you must know that Sahaflar Çarşısı was (and probably still is) one of the prime Pamuk’s locales! He mentioned the Old Book Bazaar in his books several times, f. e. in the book Istanbul: Memories and the City.
Once he also wrote:
“Between 1970 and 1990, my main preoccupation after writing was buying books; I wanted my library to include all the books that I viewed as important or useful. My father gave me a substantial allowance and from the age of 18 I was in the habit of going once a week to Sahaflar, the old booksellers‘ market in Beyazit. I spent many days in its little shops, which were heated by ineffective electric heaters and crowded with towers of unclassified books.”
The whole Pamuk’s essay that is called The Collector and says about Turkish literature and books, you can read here. It was translated by Maureen Freely.
How To Find Sahaflar Çarşısı
Street: Çadırcılar Caddesi
Extras: Between Grand Bazaar & Beyazit Mosque. Go to Beyazit tramstop and head for Gate 7 of Grand Bazaar, when you have it in sight veer to your left and you will be in Sahaflar Çarşısı.
Opening Hours: The Old Book Bazaar is open daily except on Sundays and during public or religious holidays.
Entrance Fee: Free of charge