The Empress Market (Urdu: ایمپریس مارکیٹ) is a famous marketplace situated in the Saddar Town locality of Karachi, Pakistan. The market traces its origins to the British Raj era, when it was first constructed. Today, it is amongst the most popular and busy places for shopping in Karachi and reflects as one of the few historical spots of the city. Commodities sold in the Empress Market range from condiments, fruit, vegetables and meat to stationary material, textiles and pet shops.
The Empress Market was constructed between 1884 and 1889 and was named to commemorate Queen Victoria, Empress of India.
The market was constructed at a well-chosen site that was clearly visible from a great distance. The site of the market had historical significance as it was situated on the grounds where a number of native sepoys were executed in a ruthless fashion after the Indian Rising of 1857 (The Ghaddar). Accounts mention that the sepoys had their heads blown off by canon balls in an attempt to suppress any mutinous feelings among the locals.
The foundation stone of the Empress Market was laid by Bombay's Governor, James Ferguson in 1884, who also laid the foundation of the Merewether Memorial Tower. It was designed by James Strachan, the foundations were completed by the English firm of A.J. Attfield, and the building was constructed by the local firm of ‘Mahoomed Niwan and Dulloo Khejoo’. The building was arranged around a courtyard, 130 ft by 100 ft, with four galleries each 46 ft wide. The galleries provided accommodation for 280 shops and stall keepers; at the time of its construction it was one of only seven markets in Karachi. a recreational park also exists nearby.
In 2011, a fire of unknown cause destroyed at least 46 and damaged 62 shops in the market near Jahangir Park, causing potentially billions of Rupees in damage to traders.