The Arasta Bazaar, also known as Sipahi Carsisi in Turkish, is located behind the Blue Mosque in the old city center, just next to the entrance of the Mosaics Museum. Despite The Grand Bazaar, Arasta Bazaar is a small and simple traditional market in Istanbul. There are about 40 shops lined on both sides of a street, selling traditional items. Originally this place was built in the 17th century and used to be stables during the Ottoman period. It suffered damage from many fires and left in ruins for a long period. In the eighties it was converted into shops, permitting the money from rents to be used in the restoration works of the Blue Mosque.
The Arasta Bazaar is open daily.
Situated just besides one of the most important symbols of Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, the Arasta Bazaar has a dignified location. The place also includes Istanbul Mosaic Museum ( Great Palace Museum ) with ancient mosaics from the 6th century.
Most of the shops in the small bazaar are selling Oriental rugs and textiles and the bazaar is absolutely worth visiting for both rug collectors and tourists.
When I visited the bazaar in July I was lucky to meet Seref Özen, Cocoon, in his Arasta Bazaar shop. Later I visited his second store nearby in Kücük Ayasofia Caddesi - in a four-floor building with a outstanding view to the Blue Mosque from the roof terrace.
Seref Özen is an internationally well known dealer and an authority and lecturer on Central Asian textiles.
He has been collector for more than 20 years and has done his passion to his profession as dealer and textile designer the last 8 years.
There are other esteemed dealers in the bazaar - and I should have visited them - but that must wait until I return. And there will be another time - if any city is "CARPET CITY" it is Istanbul.