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Amazing places: It’s all about atmosphere

Updated July 25, 2013
Portobello Road Maket, London
Portobello Road Maket, London
— (c) Poras Chaudhary
— (c) Poras Chaudhary

TO all the shopaholics out there, here is a great treat for you — we bring you to the most exotic, lively and the most famous markets of the world, all at one place! These markets are seeped in local flavours, hustle and bustle of humanity and historical significance, besides the many trinkets and treasures that can be bought there at either throwaway prices after a hearty bargain or where the higher the price tag, the more sought-after the item may be.

Portobello Road Market, London, United Kingdom

Looking for some great antique to add to your collection? Portobello Road Market in London is the place for you. Situated along the famous street of the same name, the market comes alive each Saturday to greet its visitors. It has its origin in the 19th century and earned its fame owing to its extensive collection of antiques and second-hand clothes.

As you move around the place, you find it has many different flavours to offer, such as fruits and vegetables to fashion goods, from books to music, from new to second-hand items, so on and so forth. The distinctive energetic atmosphere of the place is also because of the various local restaurants that are almost as popular as the market stalls there.

Queen Victoria Market, Melbourne, Australia

Queen Victoria Market, locally known as ‘Vic Market’, is the largest open-air market in the Southern Hemisphere. The place is not just a local favourite but also a tourist attraction and historic landmark that defines the essence of the city.

Spread over several city blocks, it houses more than 600 retailers! The importance this market holds in preserving the country’s culture and its heritage is marked by the fact that it has been added in the Victorian Heritage Register.

This Melbourne tourist destination offers a great deal including a wide range of fine clothing, handicraft, jewellery and shoes, food items including fruits, vegetables, meat, poultry, seafood, gourmet and deli foods. And these various items also reflect the metropolitan nature of the city.

A visit to this place is not complete without tasting the delicious jam doughnuts from the famous hot doughnut van outside the market — it has been operating there for more than 50 years now!

Chandni Chowk (Delhi), India

Characterised by the heavily crowded labyrinth of narrow alleys and walkways, Chandni Chowk is India’s largest wholesale market. This place is a true collage of all the elements of Indian culture.

The market was built by the great Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan and was designed by his daughter Jahan Ara during the 17th century.

Strolling in the market, while at one end you will find yourself drooling over most beautiful saris with zari and chickenkari work, at the next corner you will find your senses bombarded with the aroma of delicious smells coming from all sides. Dahi bhalle of Natraj, paratha of Parathewali gali, fruit chaat of chaatwallah, all will put you in a great dilemma — what to eat and what to leave.

While still stuck in that dilemma, you will stumble upon a great collection of other items including, jewellery, leather goods, books, shoes, electronics, silverware and what not! Truly, the diversity of the market definitely makes it a great sight to see!

Grand Bazaar (Istanbul), Turkey

Turkey’s commercial hub as well as the largest covered market of the country; Grand Bazaar had its foundations laid down between 1455 and 1461, during the reign of Sultan Mehmet.

Home to almost 5000 shops and 50 walkways, it is believed to attract between 250,000 and half a million locals and tourists each day! On its 550th anniversary, in 2011, the head of the Grand Bazaar Artisans Association declared it as the most visited monument in the world! During the peak of the Ottoman Empire’s dominance over great parts of Asia and also Europe, Grand Bazaar was the hub of Mediterranean trade and no other market in both these continents could match its variety and quality of goods on sale in the 19th century.

Grand Bazaar has a unique structure with the central high domed hall of the Cevahir Bedesten, two mosques, four fountains, two hamams (Turkish baths), and several cafes and restaurants all around the complex.

This place is full to the seams with jewellery, silk clothing, traditional copperware, hand-painted ceramics, carpets, embroideries, antiques, leather, spices and the like.

Get your communication skills polished as it will definitely help you to haggle over your favourites in the great Grand Bazaar and there are definitely bargains to be made if you know how to!

Victoria Park Market, Auckland, New Zealand

Another great place that we have for you is the Victoria Park Market. This market was officially opened in 1984, but the history of the place is almost a century old! Situated in Freeman’s Bay, the market got its name from the nearby Victoria Park.

This market is definitely a double treat for visitors! Along with offering an extraordinary collection of New Zealand’s crafts, cloths, shoes and fashion accessories, you get an insight into the country’s past when entering the museum situated in the market.

This market also houses a Celebrity Walk of Fame, where fans get to see the handprints and the footprints of the famous New Zealanders, including Sir Edmund Hillary, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Billy T James, John Walker and Rachel Hunter!

Chatuchak Market (Bangkok), Thailand

Although not much is known about the history of the market, today Chatuchak (or Jatujak, or J.J.) is the largest market of Thailand and the world’s largest weekend market. This market stands on an area of almost 35 acres, with over an incredible 5000 stalls spread across the place and attracts almost 200,000 visitors each weekend!

This heavily populous market never disappoints its visitors as it offers a wide and extensive collection of clothes, Thai handicraft, religious artefacts, food, household items and live animals. A visit to Bangkok will surely be incomplete without going to Chatuchak market!

Bloemenmarkt, Amsterdam, Netherlands

If you want to see the world’s only floating flower market, head to the Dutch capital’s market Bloemenmarkt! Founded in 1862, the market is situated on the Singel canal where the floating boats are actually flower shops, besides other shops located on the ground. The boat shops are a tradition that date back to the early days of the market when flowers arrived in Amsterdam every day from the countryside by boat. During Christmas you can also find Christmas trees on these floating boat shops!

Undoubtedly this place is a marvel to behold! With splashes of colours everywhere and intoxicating fragrances, a visit to the market is a breathtaking experience for a visitor. You can also find almost all kinds of flower-related stuff here, ranging from seeds to unique bulbs and blooms. And don’t forget to take your cameras with you to capture the beauty of this unique market.

Central Market, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Central Market (Khmer name Psah Thmey), with its unique colonial and art deco style stands as a great landmark in Cambodia’s capital city, Phnom Penh.

Constructed in 1937 during the French colonial period, the building has a yellow dome at the centre with four wings branching out into vast hallways. It was built on a lake that was drained but as it was an area where rainwater would accumulate, flooding during the rainy season is a problem the market area faces.

The market offers everything from food items to clothes, gold and artificial jewellery, electronic items to counterfeit and second hand ones. The gateway to the market is lined with hawkers selling knick-knacks.

The market was temporarily closed after it was damaged during the Franco-Thai war in 1941 and it reopened finally after it was rebuilt in its current modern style after World War II.

The Khmer name of the market, ‘Psah Thmey’ means ‘New Market’ but in English, people generally call it the ‘Central Market’. On the other hand, ‘Phsar Kandal’ another market in Phnom Penh is translated to ‘Central Market’ in the English language but is commonly called by its Khmer name, so don’t get confused between the two!

San Telmo, Buenos Aires, Argentina

One of the most atmospheric street markets in the world is San Telmo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where shopping is indeed a very entertaining affair.

During weekdays, San Telmo daily market is housed in a 1897 Tuscan-style building with a beautiful interior and exquisite facade, where everything from fresh basil to antique shoes and coins is on display in this permanent marketplace.

On Sunday, all the action is outside and the inside is pretty deserted as people flock to San Telmo to see tango dancers perform, bands play, stalls of antiques and artwork of all kinds.