Moments in History
The word bazaar – ‘pazar’ in Turkish - is thought to be Persian for a place of prices. More poetically, the Turkish word çarşı comes from two Persian words, meaning four streets or four ways. It refers to a four-sided market place, or to a street with shops to left and right. In the time of the famous ‘Seyahatname’ of the seventeenth-century traveller Evliya Çelebi, Urfa Bazaar had 400 shops selling every kind of valuable product. The saddlery was located on the shore of the İbrahim Halil River, Çelebi reports, and the two sides of the main thoroughfare were watered with cool water “like the ‘Serdab’ (underground room) of Baghdad” and adorned with flowers in season, brightening the hearts and minds of all who passed. There were, he adds, places where all erudite people gathered and rested.
Evliya Çelebi does not omit to mention the ‘bedesten’, the vaulted and fireproof part of the bazaar where the most valuable goods were kept. He writes of two bedesten, of which one was “an old-type structure with a dome made of stones and bricks, constructed endwise… It has three iron doors. All the precious jewellery is to be found here.” According to the annals of Aleppo Province, dated 1867 and 1883, however, there was a single ‘bedesten’ in the centre of Urfa. This is today’s Kazzaz Bazaar.