Commercial areas and bedestens (covered bazaars) are important public areas in Turkish cities and towns. These areas and buildings are essential in that they contribute vital economic and social characteristics to Turkish cities and towns. In the Ottoman period, these commercial areas, alongside inns, baths, mosques, and stores, were engaged in trading and manufacturing and formed a central part of life for the residents. The number of bedestens in a given city was dependent on the size of the city or town. All social, administrative, and economic activities were organized within these bedestens. Commercial structures, in which the bedestens are located, with different functions, such as arasta, inns, markets, covered markets, and stores, are the main components of the commercial districts. These structures were built by the order of the Sultan for the purpose of reviving and providing direction to the economic life of the city or town. One of the key components of these commercial structures was the bedestens. In terms of Turkish culture, a bedesten can be defined as the heart of the commercial district. Although these structures were built to sell textiles, they later functioned as places where antiques and/or valuable goods were also sold. Bedestens were usually a unique type of structure, with masonry masses between wooden stores located in the middle of the trade center of the city or town. The top of the bedesten, which was usually built as one storey and rectangular in shape, had a domed roof covered with lead. In this study, spatial analyses of these important architectural elements were conducted in terms of city planning, folk culture and commercial life. The bedestens selected for the study were those in historical cities located at major commercial road axes from the Ottoman period. The bedestens in these historical cities were examined, within the context of their planning, and assessments were made. The relations that these structures have with each other in general, and their common and different features, were also investigated.
Keywords: Bedesten, Commercial Buildings, Trade Culture, Commercial Districts
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