The magnificent, labyrinthine covered bazaar covers some 7 sq km with 24 separate caravanserais and 22 impressive timches (domed halls). Construction began over a millennium ago, though much of the fine brick vaulting is 15th century. Upon entering one feels like a launched pinball, bouncing around through an extraordinary colourful maze, only emerging when chance or carelessness dictates.
There are several carpet sections, according to knot-size and type. The spice bazaar has a few shops still selling herbal remedies and natural perfumes. A couple of hat shops (Bazaar Kolahdozan) sell traditional papakh (Azari hats, from around IR100,000,) made of tight-curled astrakhan wool. The better the quality, the younger the lamb sacrificed to the milliner’s art. Other quarters specialise in gold, shoes and general household goods.
For such a huge construction, the bazaar is surprisingly easy to miss. A useful entrance is the second narrow passage east of the tourist information office. This takes you into the jewellery section.