The Covered Bazaar is a large complex consisting of 61 streets, 4400 shops, 2195 workshops, 18 fountains, 2 bedestens (vaulted and waterproofed areas of the bazaar where valuable goods are kept), 40 inns, 12 small mosques (mescit), 12 warehouses, 1 school, 1 bath, and 19 water wells.
The main gates of the Covered Bazaar are Beyazıt, Fesçiler, Sahaflar, Kürkçüler, Nuriosmaniye, Mahmutpaşa, Mercan, Tacirciler and Örücüler. The bazaar is traditionally closed after sunset. However, it was opened twice at night; first, during the fire in 1546, and during the celebraton ceremonies of Abdulmecit’s (1839-1861) return from his campaign in Egypt.
Most sections of the Covered Bazaar are built of wood during the reign of Suleiman The Magnificient (1494 – 1566) as an extension to the old part which was built during the reign of Mehmet II. The wooden part, which suffered great damage from three large fires, first in 1546 (the reign of Suleiman The Magnificent), second in 1651 (the reign of Murad V) and lastly in 1710 (the reign of Mustafa II), was rebuilt using stone.
The Covered Bazaar, with an area of 31.000 m², resembles a labyrinth. The roof is covered with lead and has numerous domes. Moreover, the Inner Bedesten (İç Bedesten), which is reported to have existed since the Byzantine period, measures 48x36m² with 8 columns and 15 domes.
From the past to the present, the bazaar has been repaired and restored many times. The most notable damage to the bazaar occurred during an earthquake in 1894.
The bazaar, with its architectural style designed specifically for enclosed shopping centers, entertains many visitors who come for both commercial and touristic purposes from different countries speaking different languages every day.
Translated by Mr. Irfan KOKSAL