This isn’t your average tour of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, believe us
Istanbul's Grand Bazaar has pretty much seen it all in more than 550 years, but not freerunning – until now. Join Dominic Di Tommaso and Hazal Nehir on an adventure through the ages in The Grand Maze.
Istanbul's famous Grand Bazaar has stood on the same site since 1455; an ancient centre of an ancient city that boasts 64 streets, 22 gates, 3,600 stores and somewhere in the order of 26,000 workers. To the uninitiated (like the 250,000 to 400,000 tourists who flood it every day), it's labyrinthine covered passages are a place to get lost in and browse for hours. For freerunners Hazal Nehir and Dominic Di Tommaso it's The Grand Maze, the setting for the incredible freerunning adventure through time you can watch above.
With incredible sights, sounds and stories around every corner, Nehir and Di Tommaso were the first freerunners ever granted access to the Grand Bazaar. They didn't waste any time getting amid the hustle and bustle of one of the world's great markets and adding their own chapter to its incredible history.
From the maze of streets, passages and shops deep inside the bazaar and up on to the famed roof with its views of the Beyazit and Nuruosmaniye mosques, Nehir and Di Tommaso used their creativity and skills to deliver a freerunning adventure like we've never seen before – The Grand Maze.
Shot over the space of a week, as the Grand Bazaar continued its centuries-old traditions around them, Di Tommaso, Nehir and a small, mobile crew explored every inch of the Bazaar's 30,700 square metres in search of the most exciting and challenging freerunning it could offer up, also inviting acclaimed Turkish musician Burhan Öçal to provide the atmospheric soundtrack to the film.
For Di Tommaso, filming in Istanbul was the latest stop on his freerunning tour of historic locations that's already seen him in action in Cairo, Switzerland and Bruges. "Istanbul has an incredible character," the Australian said. "Being on the roof of the Grand Bazaar was a very inspiring experience, especially if you dreamed of jumping from rooftops to rooftops like a ninja when you were a kid. It was like my 15-year-old dreams come true. With a city skyline like Istanbul's, it became an even more unique experience.
"Istanbul and the people here are so warm, so friendly. Everyone knows everyone. Everyone is talking to everyone and everyone is smiling at everyone. I really enjoyed this friendly interest. Thanks to this interest and warm welcome, it was wonderful to perform here and to showcase a modern sport at a historical and cultural centre."
Being on the roof of the Grand Bazaar was a very inspiring experience. It was like my 15-year-old dreams come true
For Turkish native Nehir, being given the opportunity to freerun inside one of her country's most famous and celebrated landmarks took the excitement of the project to another level.
"Of course, I know the Grand Bazaar and that the roofs are magnificent," Nehir recalled. "I also knew that it's very protected and if I wanted to go freerunning there, I couldn't just go and do it on my own, so I was really happy when Red Bull came to me with such a project.
"The Grand Bazaar has always been a building with architecture I admire and when viewed from its roof, I was fascinated by the atmosphere – as if there were no maze-like streets, thousands of shops and human traffic below us. I had an unforgettable experience in the sky of Istanbul at sunset, accompanied by my friend Dom and the seagulls.
"We set out to create something for those who cannot come to Istanbul, but want to be here, going on a journey on the roofs to rediscover our city and showcase one of the oldest destinations in Turkey and the world."
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