Pick up a Piece of History in Istanbul’s Vintage Market

In Istanbul’s vintage markets, you never know what treasures you’ll discover… ©GettyImages.com/Tony Souter

Lying at the crossroads of East and West, Istanbul lives in the past as much as it races toward the future. And nothing represents Istanbul’s timelessness as vividly as its flea markets and vintage stores, which are scattered around the city.

You’ll find it all: antique postcards, authentic Ottoman swords, carpets, and creepy porcelain dolls. Every vintage store here is a small universe in itself. And you never know what you may find.

One of the posher places to look for exotic candelabra, Ottoman swords, peculiar vases, old photo albums, vinyl, analog cameras, and wind-up toys is Feriköy Bit Pazari, in the Feriköy flea market. This area was home to Greeks and Armenians during the Ottoman Empire; today everybody, in the thousands, comes to visit the flea market. (To get there, take the m2 metro line to Osmanbey station. The shop is between Lala Sahin Sokak and Düzoglu Sokak streets.) The flea market is open every Sunday until around 7p.m.

A short walking distance from Feriköy is the Nisantasi neighborhood, a high-end district where fancy meets classy. Here you will stumble upon such places as Ampir Antika ve Sanat Evi (Süleyman Nazif Sokak No. 15; Nisantasi). Prepare to wend your way through candelabra’d rooms packed with furniture—from sideboards to decorated chairs—enormous busts and statues, porcelain figurines, coffee and tea sets, and more. Framed paintings line the walls and lean at angles against other items. And everything is for sale.

When it comes to more serious shopping, such as antique furniture, mirrors, carpets, or Ottoman doors for your palace, head to the Asian side of the city. In the Kadıköy district, which faces the historic center across the Bosphorus, head to the streets of Tellalzade Caddesi and Sakız sokak. This is where you find the majority of shops that sell vintage house décor, including ornate chairs and tables. Also look here for retro music players, vinyl, and analog cameras.

On the European side of the Bosphorus, in Çukurcuma district, A La Turca (Faik Pasa Cd. No.4) is perhaps the slickest store to buy your carpets and tapestries, globes and vases, lamps, and pottery. Everything is produced by Turkish artisans proud of their culture and skills.