By Samantha Baranowski
The Grand Bazaar, Istanbul’s famous covered market, is falling apart — but it’s not clear who will foot the bill for an estimated $100 million in repairs.
Hasan Firat, president of the Bazaar Traders’ Association, claims the government
isn’t doing anything to fix the 550-year-old historic market, the oldest, most-visited
shopping center in Istanbul.
The Kapalıçarşi, or Covered Bazaar, was built by the Ottoman sultan Mehmet the
Conqueror in 1461. Now shop owners here say the historic columns and domed
ceilings are in desperate need of repair.
Responsibility for repair is not always easy to assign, though. The 3,600 shops in the
bazaar are privately owned, some with deeds passed down through the centuries.
But no one is directly responsible for revamping the common areas.
Some in the bazaar say they aren’t worried about the building; others that it’s in its
worst shape ever. Shop owners have had to improvise to help their establishments
withstand fire, earthquake and heavy rain in recent years. Wires hang from the
ceilings, running between shops to bypass the outdated power grid.
Each shop owner expects to pay some $30,000 toward repairs, in what is expected
to be Turkey’s largest historical restoration project.