The Çarşamba Market and the Fatih Camii

Çarşamba is a neighborhood in Istanbul, and also the Turkish word for “Wednesday”. Now, what do you suspect might be the best day to visit Çarşamba? You get one guess!

Held since Byzantine times, the Wednesday Market (Çarşamba Pazarı) was already woven so immutably into the neighborhood’s fabric, that the conquering Turks just named the entire area after it. Today, Çarşamba is a highly devout section of Istanbul. The market occupies the narrow streets surrounding the Fatih Mosque, and brings the locals out in droves, the great majority of them covered women going about their weekly shopping.

The market concentrates on cheap clothing, household wares and food; nothing of touristic interest, besides the sheer spectacle of so many people. Jostling through the jam-packed streets, and getting mercilessly shoulder-checked by the no-nonsense, and surprisingly solid, local ladies, Jürgen and I were equally exhilarated and exhausted by the market. It was with a sigh of relief that we finally emerged into the courtyard of the Fatih Mosque.

This massive complex is one of the great mosques of Istanbul, built on the destroyed remains of the Church of the Holy Apostles. It was raised 30 years after the conquest of Istanbul on the orders of Mehmet the Conqueror, who was less than satisfied with the result. Angry that the mosque’s dome was smaller than that of the Hagia Sophia, he had the architect put to death. You don’t want to disappoint the Conqueror!

We think Mehmet over-reacted. His mosque is a marvel, with gorgeous interior calligraphy and design, and a pleasant courtyard. We sat down inside to listen to a little preaching, and take in the atmosphere. The mosque was surprisingly crowded. A few kids were laughing and chasing each other around the carpeted room, while their fathers looked on in annoyance. There was a lighter, more frivolous atmosphere in this mosque than others we’ve visited, probably thanks to the shopping-festival just outside.

Walking around the grounds of the mosque, we found the mausoleum of Mehmet the Conqueror himself, his turban atop an absurdly large coffin. Many people were seated inside, reading from the Koran, and praying for the former Sultan. We were tempted to sit down, ourselves, if just for the excuse to spend some extra time in this beautifully-tiled mausoleum.

Location of the Fatih Mosque on our Istanbul Map

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The Çarşamba Market

The Fatih Camii

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. I love the picture of the older guy striking a pose in the market! What a dude. Also really love your photos of the mosque, the dome looks absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Diane

    As a people watcher, I enjoyed the market place and especially the fresh garden food display…so colorful! I agree, the mosque is beautiful. 

  3. IA

    This is a wonderful series–thank you guys for sharing your adventures with us. I was in Istanbul last summer, and your posts have brought the place back to life in my mind. I have small correction: we can’t really be sure if Mehmet overreacted, because the original Fatih Mosque and tomb were completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1766 (perhaps the architect didn’t do a great job after all). In its place, a mosque with a different design was built by Sultan Mustafa III in 1771. This is the marvel you visited, and your excellent pictures make me feel as I visited it too.

  4. Daniel

    Hi all, I want to visit Istanbul next year.  I love clothes and wanted to know the best market for secondhand clothing. Kind regards

  5. Emma

    How do I get to Fatih Cami from Taksim square? Can I walk or is it too far?

    1. Mike Powell

      It would be a very far walk… I’d try taking public transportation. Either a bus from around Taksim, or the metro.

  6. Amna

    Hi, Thank you for a very interesting post. I’ve recently visited Istanbul and this area and wanted to find out more about Carsamba as there is not much on the web and finally found something on your blog ! Didn’t know there was a wednesday market ! would love to attend this the next time we visit.Also, wanted to just clarify something. The people that you see praying “to” the grave are not actually praying to that person but rather praying “for” them. Its an islamic custom to pray for the person in the grave whenever you visit anyone’s grave. and you’re right no exceptions here either : ) thanks, amna

  7. Yul

    I recently visited Istanbul and stayed at a beautiful Turkish house that has been restored in Balat/Fener area. My host advised to visit Carsamba market and we indeed took his advise. We found the market is amazing with the array of fresh fruits, clothing and other house hold items. We not sure what time it started but the market closed around 8 pm. What surprising us was the prices at the Carsamba market it was away…. Away …. Cheaper than the stuffs sell at the Grand Bazar or The spice Bazar. Obviously this place were for the locals to shop however it is only happening every Wednesday. We really enjoyed walking around the street and tasted the best fresh fruits and veggies. We also found the beautiful mosque as you described on your pictures. The people in Turkey are very friendly. The public Transportation is superb. After one bad experience with taxi we decided to go by bus and metro it was much better to go around turkey but remember you need to have the Istanbulkart to hop from metros to buses or to fery ride. From the Eminonu, which is the main terminal for ferry and buses you can go to Carsamba taking bus no 90 or 90B and stop at Carsamba.We wish to visit Turkey again sometimes in the future and sure will not miss the Carsamba market. Thank you for letting us to share our experience with you. 

  8. Manal

    Will the Wednesday Fatih market be open during Adha 2016? If not, where can i find the other locations of this market in istanbul on different days?

  9. Oktay

    Dieser-Bazaar/Markt ist das grösster offener Markt von Istanbul und ist jeden Mittwoch in Fatih(Centrum, wo auch das Fatih-Moschee ist)

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