Traditionally, tourism in Istanbul is (of course) largely oriented toward its history and culture. The city’s multicultural past has left deep impressions upon the architecture and lifestyle of its inhabitants, making these aspects of the city very attractive to it’s visitors. As the tourism industry continues attempting to hoard all the tourists in the historical peninsula of Sultanahmet, the rest of the city is still facing rapid and dramatic changes.
Large multinational and investment companies are very attracted to the possibility of seeing their headquarters nestled in a city with a large population like Istanbul. Thus, since they have the full support of the Turkish government, it is no surprise that over the past 10 years, the construction sector has grown exponentially and is becoming by far the largest business in Turkey.
As a result, some new districts are developing very rapidly, but for different reasons. Bayrampaşa, for example, has numerous shopping centers and residences springing up everywhere. The outermost part of the neighborhood, which is an industrial area, is gradually becoming part of the urban area. Güneşli has become a nest full of outlets and therefore a center for shopping. Levent is developing at an incredible pace as well, with skyscrapers sprouting like mushrooms, it is becoming the financial center of the city. Galata, Tophane and Tarlabaşı have undergone the process of gentrification, causing many debates about restoration projects since they are protected areas.
At the same time, in places surrounded by greenery, in which the most wealthy can escape from the frenetic pace of the city, development has become very important and as well. For this Florya, Kemerburgaz, and Zekeriyaköy are now sought after areas and overflowing with large villas. On the Asian side of Istanbul, the districts of Kartal and Pendik can now be considered as two small towns in their own right.
Probably, luxury residences and shopping centers are the most popular buildings in recent years. It is estimated that there are 54 in Istanbul shopping centers and the number is expected to exceed 100 in a short time. (This would cause a major crisis for the small shops so we hope that the process will stop.)
It is not so much the number of shopping centers that seek to impress, but the size. Recent development has opened a sort of competition to see who builds the biggest shopping center…the highest…the most wide…to the point that now Istanbul has all these records at European level.
To give you an idea, just consider that the biggest shopping center in Italy (currently Euroma2 in Rome and Etnapolis in Catania) have within them approximately 200 stores over an area of 200 thousand square meters. While Cevahir Istanbul has more than 450 shops and sixty restaurants. Forum Istanbul is spread over an area of 450 thousand square meters. It ‘s normal that many Europeans visiting Istanbul remain impressed by these dimensions.
Having said that we want to focus attention Istanbul Shopping Fest which is taking place these days. It’s a clear manifestation of the will to transform Istanbul into a shopping capital, and it is definitely succeeding in the attempt. The festival began March 18 and will last until April 26, 40 days and 40 nights. The aim of the festival is of course to entice purchases through special offers, prizes, gifts, parties, special opening nights, concerts and events.
Like it or not, these are the places where the people of the twenty-first century enjoy spending time; shopping, eating, going to the movies or socializing, and Istanbul is no exception. This means that if we want a complete picture of the city, we should not underestimate some modern reality. Perhaps after visiting these huge malls one can easily understand how the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar are nowadays tourist attractions not only for the millions of foreign tourists but also for the inhabitants of Istanbul.
Turkey has always stood out for the quality of its textile industries and for its well crafted jewelry. Therefore it is no mystery that many important European brands (and also Italian) manufacture their products here. Then, next to all the most famous international brands, there are many Turkish brands that offer the highest quality products at a very competitive price. For example, Mavi Jeans, Fabrika, Vakko, Beymen, Arzu Kaprol, efor, Gizia, Machka, Roman regarding to clothing; Derimod, Desa and Matras for leather products; Altinbas and Atasay for jewelry; Hotiç and Beta for footwear, Paşabahçe for glass and porcelain.
Here is a short list of shopping malls and shopping streets that you can visit if you are interested in shopping:
1. İstiklal Caddesi (Beyoğlu)
2. Bağdat Caddesi (Kadıköy)
3. Abdi Ipekçi (Nişantaşı)
4. Sultanahmet Meydanı (Sultanahmet)
The reference site for the Festival with the day-to-day initiatives: Istanbulshoppingfest.org