select - Grand Bazaars
Written by Brian Johnston
In a world increasingly dominated by bland shopping malls, it’s good to know there are still places where a shopping trip provides plenty of colour, noise, and movement, and where you can hunt down everything including the kitchen sink – as long as you haggle along the way.
TehranTehran Bazaar is more than a simple market Tehran Bazaar is more than a simple market – it also contains dozens of banks and mosques, a church, guesthouses, and even a fire station, as well as some ten kilometres of storefronts. You could spend a lot of time wandering through this miniature city and probably get lost, but never mind. Each street specialises in something different, whether it’s copper, spices, paper, carpets, books, or knives. Shoemakers tap, tailors snip, carpet-sellers keep up an endless banter. In carpet shops, you can sit and drink tiny cups of tea while a kaleidoscope of rugs is flung down at your feet. Some lament that the bazaar is on the decline, with many merchants moving out, but few other than Tehranis would notice this amid the bustle, especially when the bazaar hits its peak in the late afternoon.
In a city where concrete sprawls, Tehran Bazaar brings colour, cacophony, and commercial enterprise to the streets.
The capital of Iran and its biggest city, Tehran lies in the central north of the country and forms its own province.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has twice-daily flights from Doha to Tehran.
CasablancaThe aroma of mint tea, the bleating of goats, and the clatter of stall owners going about their business will draw you to Casablanca’s bazaar in the heart of its downtown medina. As visitors browse for wooden souvenirs, ceramics, leather goods, handmade rugs, jewellery, and the odd antique; locals shop for their daily food, whether it’s spices, sacks of dried fruit, or meat from the butcher.
Forget soulless malls and shop the old-fashioned way in scenes that seem to have barely changed in centuries.
Casablanca is in western Morocco on the Atlantic coast, and is the country’s largest port and city.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways flies daily from Doha to Casablanca.
Just when you thought buildings in Istanbul could get no bigger – with its gigantic mosques, gargantuan palaces, and museums of staggering proportions – you arrive at the Grand Bazaar. This is the mother of all shopping malls: 65 covered streets, 4,000 shops, 500 goldsmiths, a few mosques, teahouses galore, and 30 square kilometres of floor space. Salesmen babble in many languages, while plying you with apple tea and swiftly bringing prices down by
as much as a quarter. It’s infuriating, touristy, and overwhelming, but the
Grand Bazaar is a fascinating experience. You can get anything here from silver and gold to antiques, copperware, leather goods, silk, clothes, and cast-off Red Army gear from the old Soviet bloc. You can even buy Turkish stocks and shares – just talk to the men in suits brandishing mobile phones.
Look no farther: this is the shopaholic’s ultimate in bazaar bargains, and housed in beautiful and historic buildings to boot.
Located on the Bosphorus Strait, Istanbul famously straddles Europe and Asia.
HOW TO GET THERE
Qatar Airways has daily flights from Doha to Istanbul.