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Sharing a square with the New Mosque near the tip of Istanbul's Golden Horn, the Spice Market has catered to travelers seeking a taste of the globe since 1663. The market's location has remained unchanged for centuries, cementing the site as the focal point of Istanbul's rich history, having functioned as the central hub for Medieval spice traders. Heaps of brightly colored spices, vessels overflowing with nuts and boundless pyramids of Turkish delicacies are harmoniously crammed side by side, under lanterns suspending from arched ceilings casting a mellow glow throughout the market. Owing to its monumental sprawl, Spice Market's collection is nearly limitless, luring droves of locals and tourists who test out mounds of exotic tea, sample a variety of rich dryfruits, experiment with sweetened baklavas, or even simply saunter through its labyrinthine alleyways. Resting behind a quintessentially Turkish dome-topped facade, Spice Bazaar is one of the largest of its kind in the city, hence attesting to the country’s long-standing mercantile history.
Opened in 1992, Motif Collection is one of the best places in the city's historical peninsula for Turkish kilim (handcrafted rugs or carpets). Specializing in Turkish/Anatolian kilims, these are not only used as prayer mats, floor and wall decoration but also as saddlebags. Each piece is a work of art as the tapestry weaves are replete with motifs which are often symbolic to various tribal beliefs. You can explore their items in leisure and get an insight of this ancient culture from the owners and staff who are just too happy share their knowledge. Get some of these unique pieces home or a gift for someone.
Take a leisurely walk through Arasta Bazaar and pick up amazing souvenirs to take home. This market is more relaxed than others in the city and attracts visitors who would rather not deal with huge crowds. Textiles, spices, clothing, accessories, jewelry, hookahs, and other Turkish specialties can be found here. It's a great shopping destination in Istanbul.
A trip to a city isn't complete without investing in a local memento. Tourists of Istanbul should definitely head to İKSV Tasarım Mağazası, which is also popular among locals. This boutique is managed by the organization, İstanbul Kültür Sanat Vakfı. Its racks of colorful merchandise makes one feel like taking the entire stock home. Shop for traditional jewelry, home decor and furnishing, gifting items, offbeat accessories and stationery. This store also boasts of artwork by the likes of Andy Warhol, Mustafa Pilevneli, Abidin Dino, Tina Frey, Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu and Aida Pekin. So head to this shop for a quirky souvenir etched with the memories of your visit.
La Cave, French for "the cellar," is full of fine libations. İn a country where alcohol is over taxed and selection is sparse, La Cave is on all the wine drinkers' lips. İt has a very good selection of Turkish and international wines, a couple of cask wines (for parties), and a plethora of hard spirits. The shop owners are friendly and more than willing to accommodate special requests or make recommendations. -Stephanie Berton