It’s no secret that Istanbul was recognized as the world shopping center a long time ago. There are really lots and lots of stores. Though, the Istanbul shopping centers are actually age-old bazaars (marketplaces) where you can find traditional Turkish goods and, of course, souvenirs. As Istanbul is proceeding to the European future, the malls have relatively recently become those malls for shopping. They are enormous shopping centers with bunches of boutiques trading Turkish and international goods. By the way, the majority of brands are made in Turkey, that’s what cuts down their prices.
ISTANBUL – there’s a good reason that they call it a city of contrast. Here, only in one day, you can see two continents, only here you can visit the multifarious Bosphorus Strait in all of its aspects. Only here you’ll spend a winter in a two-day period and a summer – during several months. It’s a wonderful place, both for local people and travelers. And it’s always unforgettable, unique and enigmatic!
Istanbul is located in two parts of the world at the same time – in Europe and Asia. Two parts of one and the same city are both similar and very different. All the major sights are, mainly, located on the European side of Istanbul, that’s why the Asian part is often left out in the cold by tourists undeservingly. Though, you’ll never get to the Eastern cities of Turkey like Ankara and Izmir without driving by the Asian part. The Asian part is more calm place to live in, in contrast to the European one, but anyone here who wants to spend some time on the European continent can easily get there over 20-40 minutes without traffic jams. Two, even three bridges join these continents:
- Fatıh Sultan Mehmet
- Еylül Кoprusu/ Bogaz Köprüsü
- Yavuz Sultan Selim Köprüsü
This is the sort of city you can spend a whole life in within short period of time. You’ll will fall in love with the streets of Sultanahmet and Taksim luxury. You may meet intrusive marketeers trying to sell you a knick-knack triple the price, though you may not know it and buy a thing in remembrance of the city. You may get scared of jaunty traders and their promises to give discount for ‘Christian Saint Laurent’ or even sell for a few dollars. You may have a ride on a tram across the western İstiklal Avenue and lose your head at the real eastern market. How can you manage all the activities? You can’t! You won’t have time to do it in just 3 or 7 days, though, usually, tourists try to. I’ve lived in Istanbul for more than 12 years already. Do you think I managed to? Of course, I didn’t. There’s still a lot of work to do. So, let’s start right away sorting things out and carry out the barebones agenda:
- Hagia Sophia church (Turkish: Ayasofya) — well-known for its history, religion and architecture. Visiting Istanbul without seeing Hagia Sophia would be as strange as visiting Paris without seeing the Louvre.
- Bosphorus — a strait that separates Europe and Asia. When passaging it by water transport, you cross two continents in a matter of less than half an hour in good weather. It’s much more interesting to be among the Istanbul citizens who sail from Europe to Asia on their daily round than on the tourist ship deck. Evening boating in the middle of the Bosphorus is equally impressive: beautiful public lightning leaves lasting and romantic impression.
- Galata Bridge is famous for its historical places and fish. The difference is that you can easily eat those fish from the Bosphorus or Golden Horn. Restaurants by the Galata bridge are those things you should visit, if you want to feel true local atmosphere. From a welcomed tourist you turn there into an ordinary guest, and, I must admit, it’s very nice.
- Argilah or Argileh: the Turks and Argilah go in couples. In English ‘hookah’. You should smoke it with delight and without haste. Also you can smoke different tobaccos. Even after the ban on smoking in public places has been imposed, quantity of hookah places didn’t go down.
- Hamam – for a tourist, it’s impossible not to visit Turkish bath. Hamam is not only spa-treatment, but also a kind of unique opportunity to feel the city not only with your soul but with your body too. You will be washed, get foam massage, they’ll enswathe you, give you a cup of nosy tea, maybe even locum… Mmm… But let’s not go so far.
We’re not going to smoke hookah now or take a ride in to cross the continents. Today we’ll talk about shopping and shopping malls in Istanbul. Yes, I’m talking about the malls which buyers and foreign stylists usually go there for.
You can find a store anywhere: big or small. Twice or thrice a week most shopping malls display the goods in different districts, for instance, famous Egyptian market and Grand Bazaar, narrow and main streets, outlets…
As it’s extremely topical now, I’ve picked out a couple of stores and want to discuss what you can do there and which outlets and other shops to drop in. So, let’s start with the European part:
Kanyon Mall is located i the European part of Istanbul, Sisli district. It consists of 160 stores, 9 cinema halls, sport center, car fleet for 2 300 cars. This is an enormous, not roofed, shopping mall which is famous for its architectural concept and shopping capacity of 37.5 thousand square kilometers.
It’s not only a shopping mall but also a place with residential and office units. Besides truly Turkish brands like A.Kıglı, Altınyıldız, Altınbaş, there are also many others: Adolfo Dominguez, Agata, Anne Kleın, Armani and a lot more.
Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre: There’s a lot of stores in different price tiers, you can have there all nine yards. Two-floor foodcourt offers a large variety of national cuisines. Cevahir is among five best shopping malls of Istanbul. Moreover, it’s the biggest mall in Europe.
It was built in 2005. There’re about 350 stores under the large glass roof. Cevahir extends over six floors, four of them are for stores, two more – for cafes and restaurants. Children will be happy to see there a theater, amusement rides, bowling and cinema.
In Cevahir you can buy not only clothes and footwear; the ground floor is full of supermarkets, furniture and house accessories stores. Household appliances, textiles and repair stores are also available.
The most easiest way to get there from the Taksim Square is to use subway. Thus, you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam and will be able to get inside the mall right from the station.
Among displayed brands you’ll find: Adidas, Bata, Benetton, BSB, Converse, Debenhams, Divarese, Dockers, Dorothy Perkins, Esprit, Evans, Fornarina, Gloria Jean’s, Guess World, Jack&Jones, Kappa, La Senza, Levi’s, Lotto, Massimo Dutti, Miss Selfridge, Mothercare, Nine West, Peacocks, Reebok, River Island, Topshop, Top Man, Vero Moda, Zara.
One more shopping mall in Istanbul is called Galleria Ataköy, Ataköy district. Bakırköy commuter rail station is nearby. It’s key element is the physical proximity with the Ataturk airport. If the airport is your destination and you have a few hours to kill, you’d better do it right here.
77 thousand square kilometers of the two-floor Galleria hold 140 fashion boutiques and other stores. There’s a lot of both Turkish and foreign brands, including: Trussardi, Armani Jeans, Nike, Lacoste, Calzedonia, Intimissimi, Adidas, Mothercare, Swatch, Accessorize, Beymen, Vakko, Bosch, etc. You also can find here famous French department store Printemps.
In Galleria you can buy clothes, footwear, accessories, gifts, bags, glasses, household appliances, brown goods, food, kid stuff, you name it. Medium prices.
Akmerkez: opened in 1993. Winner of 1995 ‘The Best Shopping Mall in Europe’ and 1996 ‘The best Shopping Mall in The World’ awards. The mall occupies four floors and contains 246 stores offering you men, women and children clothes and footwear, textiles, stationery, toys, optical products, household appliances. Besides, there are restaurants, cinema halls, hair studios, banks and currency exchange offices.
Istinye Park: was opened in 2007 and blew up. It’s known for the full range of such global brands as: Armani, Chanel, Dior, Zegna, LV, Fendi, Hermes, Gucci, Dolce&Gabana, Prada, Boss, Burberry, etc. They are situated out of doors. In the middle of this off-the-cuff street you’ll find the famous restaurant Masa, coffee shops and fountain and designer boutiques around them. Prices, respectively, are high. So, it’s no wonder that stars and other well-off come shopping here.
The mall is separated into two parts: the first area is roofed, the second one is situated under the open sky. Although Istinye Park is intended for a high-class customer base, the roofed area contains stores in different price categories: H&M, Mango, Zara, Mudo, Cotton, Mark&Spencer, etc.
There’s Istinye Bazaar on the ground floor, you can buy there fruits, vegetables, Turkish sweets, fresh fish, wine and other necessary products.
Zorlu Center is a fashionable shopping mall accompanied by a large choice of fashion boutiques and exclusive shops; it’s located in the Besiktas district, ‘Gayrettepe’ subway station. It’s one of the newest and most expensive trading places in Istanbul. Edgy design, stunning views (especially in warm months; there’s a bridge across the Bosphorus), it is close to the subway station and, thus, convenient to come here both from Asian and European part of the city. A large choice of global brands (both mass market items for ordinary people and ultra-expensive brands for those who prefer to look pretentious and see a lot of zeros in their cheque books).
Luxury level: Valentino, Burberry, Dsquared2, Dolce&Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Saint Laurent, Miu Miu, Bvlgrai, Moncler, Emilio Pucci, Brooks & Brothers, Lanvin, Stella Mc Cartney, Tory Burch, Cos, Fendi, Dior, Michael Kors, etc.
Mass-market level: H&M, Zara, Beymen Club, GAP, Gant, İpekyol, Lacoste, Superdry, Network, Koton, Pinko, Tommy Hilfiger, Mango, a lot of local Turkish brands.
What are the pluses:
— extent of building activities and modernity, global level;
— design and architecture elements;
— marvelous all-around view at the Bosphorus, Bosphorus Bridge and surroundings;
— a large choice of public eating places, bars, restaurants and quick service restaurants;
— high fashion world is within walking distance of the ground floor gallery with stained-glass glazing for summer/winter (quite handy and beautiful way of design);
— you don’t need to go outdoors, if you use subway; pedestrian tunnels lead you from the mall right to the subway, thus, in cold months you may go there thinly clad;
— beautiful design in general;
— clean and handy toilets and creches;
— live music and performances for visitors;
What are the minuses:
— troubled navigation through the floors and halls of the mall;
— extensive amount of reflecting and bright surfaces of walls and ceilings, it’s quite hard to look at them after a few hours there;
— no day light, low ceilings, it’s very stuffy on the lower floors of the mall;
— so few benches to have a rest on near the stores;
— a lot of small elevators, I didn’t understand their function, actually;
— info screens have really stupid interface and notification system, its number should be increased, moreover, ordinary info signs for each floor are really necessary;
— coming here by taxi or your own car isn’t a good idea; it takes too much time, you have to drive through the infinity of junctions and traffic jams, moreover, it’s far from the central historical spots of Istanbul;
— the inner courtyard is tiled with smooth dalle and turns into ice rink when it’s snowing or raining; it’s really dangerous;
— making photos from the inside is forbidden (it’s really an annoying rule!!!, that’s why I have so few photos);
— high prices, Zorlu Center is for the well-off!
Asian part includes littoral Istanbul stretching through the Bosphorus and Marmara sea. It’s figuratively divided into two parts: Üsküdar and Kadıköy.
Üsküdar (former Chrysopolis – Golden city) has more sights. Marvelous mosques by Mimar Sinan (16 century). Büyük Çamlıca hill – the highest point in Istanbul with the best panoramic view in the whole city. Selimiye Barracks and Florence Nightingale Museum. Enormous military Haydarpaşa Cemetery.
There’s almost no sights in Kadıköy, though, social life gushes out to the boulevards. A plan to visit both parts in one day (as a guidebook suggests) won’t work. Anyway, you may try, but you’ll be tired enough. You may not have time left for shopping, but still, let’s look through some info about shopping malls in the Asian part.
Capitol: opened in 1993 in Altunizade. There’s a fountain for music-light show on the ground floor. Music is performed by a pianist. 67-thousand-square-kilometer shopping floor area holds 157 stores, restaurants and Movieplex with 14 screening rooms. Both indoor and outdoor parking places are available for the visitor with cars.
Stores: Accessorize, Agatha Paris, Boyner, So Chic, Tamiş Gümüş, Yargıcı Accessories, Benetton 0-12, Chicco, Marks&Spencer, Mothercare, Toyzz Shop, D&R, Dr. Healty Life Style, İstanbul Lostra Salonu, Key Shop, Migros, Pet City, Retoucherie, Detay Optik, Detay Saat, Giya Mücevherat, Goldaş, Gülaylar Altın, Jeogem, Keskin Optik, Saat & Saat, Stork’s Mücevherat, Swarovski, Swatch, Golden Shop, Tekin Acar, The Body Shop, Watson’s, Yves Rocher, Adidas, GS Store, Nike, Reebok, Arçelik, Chakra, English Home, Esse, Kervan Çeyiz, Mudo City, Paşabahçe, Philips, Step, Tchibo, Teknosa, Beta, Calvin Klein, Ceyo, Derimod, Desa, Divarese, Flo, Hotiç, Kemal Tanca, Kipling-Birkenstock, Nine West, Shoes Center, Mavi Jeans, Network, Nu, Oxxo, Park Bravo, Penti, Polo Garage, Roman, Sarar, Silk & Cashmere, Top Shop, U.S. Polo, Uptown, Vakko, Vakkorama, Yargıcı, Zeki Triko, Ay-yıldız, Batik, Benetton, Calzedonia, Dagi, Damla, Docker’s, Fabrika Altınyıldız, Faik Sönmez, Girlstop, Herry, Intimissimi, İgs, İpekyol, Kiğılı, Koton, Lacoste, Levi’s, Mango.
There’s also Capitol Spectrum cinema with 17 screening rooms inside.
As a matter of fact, Optimum is an outlet, so, you can see discounts at every turn. Alongside with the stores for women, men, children, stores of sport wear, accessories, souvenirs, home textiles, brown goods, hypermarkets, hardware stores, home and personal care stores and entertainment venues visitors will see a territory with restaurants and cafes for 2 500 persons, ice rink and cinema. Probably, it’s one of the most fruitful places for shopping.
Stores: Accessorize, Adil Işık, Altınbaş, Ayakkabı Dünyası, B&G, B.SS.D, Bambi, Batık, Benetton, Bernardo, Beta, C&A, Cansın Motors, Carnavale, Colin’s, Coquet, De Facto, Deıchmann, Demstock, Derimod, Desa, Diesel, Dockers, European Fashion, Fabrika, Faik Sönmez, Fenerium, Greyder, Gusto, Herry, Home Store, İpekyol, Journey KANZ, Kiğılı Levi’s Dockers, Marks&Spencer, Monica Ricci, Park Barvo, Ramsey / KIP…
Usually, both people of Turkey and tourists spend time in shopping arcades. Actually, the whole shopping in Istanbul can be divided into visiting shopping malls and visiting bazaars. Both places are there in plenty, so, in this article you’ll find the list of the biggest shopping malls and bazaars you’d be interested in to visit, if you want to see the true value of shopping in Istanbul. Each shopping mall always goes with the district name, location, phone numbers and website URL.
I WISH YOU SUCCESSFUL SHOPPING AND NICE PASTIME IN ISTANBUL!
Author: Albina Bilgi, for ISSI.TV