Are you a Bazaar lover? Have you visited Iranian traditional bazaars with the ceiling, domes, and lightwells? Like the ones in Isfahan, Shiraz, Kerman, Tabriz, and so on? They are so unique and outstanding in their kind and worth visiting as many times as possible. But today we are getting to know Rasht Grand Bazaar which is totally different. 24 hectares wide, Rasht Bazaar, or so-called Rasht Grand Market is the biggest roofless bazaar in Iran.
Mesmerizing Rasht Grand Bazaar
Rasht Grand Bazaar is mesmerizing. And its spell begins with the hubbub you hear. Its hubbub pulls you into its arms and when you get in, you will immerse in its beauty. A world of dancing colors, flavors, and sounds. You can hear many sweet different dialects of Gilaki, Farsi, and even Turki in the Bazaar. Some sellers sing folklore songs out loud to attract customers that I am sure you will not miss. You may not even remember when you started walking through the connected streets and alleys of the bazaar and drawn to visit further shops and flea markets. You can find everything you can think of. From any kind of food and vegetables to clothes, kitchen stuff, and traditional handicrafts.
In Rasht Bazaar on every corner, you see the dance of the colors. You breathe in the brand-new fresh smell of the vegetables and fruits, and sometimes the sharp smell of the fresh fish. The vegetables are the crops of the nearby farms and the fish are recently caught in the Caspian Sea. Among the vegetables, you can find some aromats (aromatic vegetables) which are exclusively for the area and the locals use them as ingredients in many of their delicious Northern dishes which I personally suggest you taste at least once. Also among the fish, you may notice some weird ones that we call “Salty Fish” which in fact is the salted fish. It is to keep the fish for longer periods.
Adding salt is a traditional way of preserving meat, fish, etc. which we inherited from the times of no-fridge and yet keep it going. In Gilan, they especially serve salted fish with “Ghormeh sabzi”. This combination is one of those that many kill for it :))
Street Food In Rasht Bazaar
Little by little that you are getting done with spending your money on shopping souvenirs and buying stuff for home, you start feeling hungry, that’s the moment your eyes open to the other attractions of Rasht Great Bazaar which happen to be super delicious. Restaurants and cafes may not have desirable looks but what they have IS the dishes you will never forget its super taste. And you can be sure about the fresh ingredients as the best local suppliers are all around. Super duper Street food in the bazaar is the Fuman traditional cookies, Reshteh Khoshkar, Baghali, and small sandwiches with fresh cheese, vegetables, cucumber, fresh garlic, and tomatoes.
When to visit?
Rasht Bazaar is available to visit every day, morning to the late evening. The interesting thing is some days rural people join shoppers and vendors. They come to sell their home-grown products such as nuts, vegetables, and fruits or home-made bakeries like local traditional bread and cookies.
You may ask, “OK! This all sounds great But Why roofless?” Rasht is known as The Rain City. In Gilan, most of the time it rains or it is cloudy. The no-roof theory is a solution to absorb as much sunlight as available so that it doesn’t cause them vitamin D deficiency :). And moreover, the beauty of the bazaar when it rains is undeniable.
History and The Structure of Rasht Bazaar
To Talk about the history of the bazaar it originates back to the Safavid Dynasty (1501 – 1736). The 24 hectares market consists of two squares a large and a small one, streets, and 14 caravanserais such as Mohtasham, Chinichian, Malek, etc. . These caravanserais originate back to Qajar (1785 – 1925) and the Pahlavi Dynasty (1925 – 1979). Nowadays some of them are used as shops but most of them are abandoned for good, long time ago. It is true that the details of who made the Bazaar the first time are not at hand but a couple of terrible fires happened here are well mentioned in its history. For the first time, it was Karim Khan (founder of the Zand dynasty)’s army (1705-1799), who looted the bazaar and set it on fire, and the second was set by Agha Mohammad Khan (the founder of the Qajar dynasty)’s army.
Location and The Last words
The Grand Bazaar is located next to the “Shahrdari” Square which is also another top touristic attraction in Rasht. Variety, quality, and the freshness of the products is the reason many people visit the bazaar daily. As the result of all said above, the location is one of a kind for photography. Either on sunny days or on wet rainy days. It feels really something to walk along the bazaar and see the liveliness of the bazaar despite the rain.