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Avrat Pazari or Women’s Slave Market Istanbul

Avrat Pazari or Women’s Slave Market Istanbul
During the times of the Ottoman Empire you may be surprised to learn that many slaves gained positions of authority and power such as Grand Viziers. They were often captured by pirates or taken as a form of tax from other provinces within the Empire during a devsirme or gathering. Most slaves had already been indoctrinated with the Christian religion and would convert to Islam on arriving in Istanbul.  

Sultan's Harem - Cariyes

Many of the women in the Sultan’s Harem were once slaves and called “cariyes” and this included the Queen Mother (Valide Sultan) who, on the death of her husband would be granted her freedom. Famous women who passed through this market were Roxelana, Kosem Sultan and Mihrisah Sultan who was the mother of Sultan Selim III.

Selling Slaves

The price of a slave varied considerably depending on their age, teeth, hair, other qualities and defects and those with flat feet were considered unlucky. Although slaves ceased to be sold here in 1847 when the market closed, they continued to be sold elsewhere in Istanbul surprisingly up until 1922.

Location

Avrat Pazari is now located in the district of Cerrahpasa .

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