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Even though the Horhor Bazar it is not very well known and rarely included in touristic guides, it is advised for whoever likes antiques.
The Horhor Bazar is not horrific in any way. Close to Aksaray metro station, it is a peaceful place contrasting with the energy of the neighbourhood and with the ambiance you usually come across in bazars. About 200 shops invaded the six floors of the building, 200 antique sellers who offer a large range of furniture and objects. The bazar settled there 30 years ago.
It is a fact, from outside it doesn’t look special in any way and if you just pass by the street you may not even notice it. But don’t always trust facts, it is actually the biggest antique market of Turkey. Once you enter, you get into a kind of parallel universe. Indeed, it is quite dark and you come across objects more than humans. Tables, armchairs, lamps, dishes… you can find everything you need to set up your home interior. But you won’t set up a random one. Shops are usually specialised in periods and styles: ottoman furniture, Napoleon III style, Art Deco etc. You have to take your time: shops are so overcrowded by all the objects that it is sometimes hard to see clearly and to find something by only one look. In most of them, tens of chandeliers are hanging from the ceiling, several dining rooms have been settled and every corner is invaded by different kinds of trinkets. Quite often, parts of the collections are exposed in front of the shops as they can’t fit inside anymore.
Even though it is called a bazar, you won’t meet the same kind and amount of people than in the first bazars that probably come to your mind. Few tourists are sometimes passing by but they are rare. It mostly attracts experts and collectors. They are looking for a precise piece or are interested in a specific style. The point of the visit is definitely not to bargain but to get a unique piece. You don’t come to get a souvenir but a kind of artwork. Therefore, clients are usually wealthy.
In the Horhor Bazar, sellers are not only sellers. They are truly passionate by their objects and their history. They know how to recognize and evaluate them. Sometimes, they also work as private home designers: if a client wants a living room in ottoman style, the antique seller goes to his place and makes suggestions. In order not to be limited to what they can find in Turkey, some of them are joining some antique fairs abroad every year. Besides of the sellers, the bazar also hosts restoration workshops, for paintings and furniture. Restorers work like artists and take care of the pieces. For example, they use an old technic to polish the wood which is called gomalak cila. This homemade technic requires time and patience: the wood is treated and has to rest for a day to absorb the products, then another layer is applied and so on. Some restorers are also specialised in gilding maintenance.
Don’t hesitate to talk to the sellers, they have a lot of stories to tell about the place and the antiques. When you get out, you will feel like the bazar is actually full of life and memories.
Photo Credits: Luigi Piazzi