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Galata Tower is a medieval turreted tower built by the Genoese as a defensive structure in 1348 and since rebuilt several times. One such occasion was following an earthquake in 1509 which caused great damage to Galata Tower.
Known by the Genoese as the Tower of Christ (Christea Turris), over the centuries, Galata Tower has been used for several purposes. For example, in the sixteenth century it is said to have acted as a jail under Suleiman the Magnificent and an astrology observatory. There is also a story which says that an aviator by the name of Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi took off from the tower using artificial wings in 1638.
In 1794, Galata Tower was devastated by a fire. This was somewhat ironic given that it was serving as a fire watchtower at the time.
The latest main restoration of Galata Tower occurred in 1967. The main thing inside this tower is the restaurant, although people also go to the top for the views.
Galata Tower in Istanbul
The Galata tower stands tall in the Beyoglu district of Istanbul, this tower holds a very special place for the city. It also has amazing background history that we will discover here, we will also mention what you can do inside and outside the tower. The tower had many ups and downs but it still stands tall as an important monument of Istanbul.
History of the Tower
The tower has a Romanesque style of architecture and it was named as the Tower of Christ. Back during the Constantinople era, the tower was considered the tallest building in the city. During that time the tower was located on a different site but was destroyed by the crusaders during the Fourth Crusade, when the Ottomans took over the city in a historic conquest, they modified it and used for spotting fires in the city.
A man called Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi made an artificial wings to glide over the Bosphorus, and he successfully did so and landed on the other side of the Bosphorus Strait in Uskudar’s shore.
The first ever panoramic paint was drawn on top of the tower by a French painter called Pierre Prevost and named it Panorama De Constantinople.
The tower had many desperate times like the one in 1875 when during a storm the roof of the tower was completely destroyed, and in fact, it remained roofless during the Ottoman Era. Between 1965 and 1967, the roof was re built and it was replace by a concrete structure rather than the one it had which was made of wood.
Activities to do Inside and Around the Tower
The activities that this tower offers are many, one of them being able to go up to the top of the tower and check the amazing panoramic view over the city is wonderful, in addition, there is a restaurant and a café on top of it so you can enjoy the view even more with a drink or a dish to accompany you. The restaurant on top hosts a Turkish show as well, you can go up there by elevators.
The tower is located in Beyoglu district of the city which pretty crowded and famous at the same time, the tourists come to this particular district to enjoy their time as it is the best place to be around the year. In the district, there is the Taksim Square which is famous for its small bazaar and a meeting point for tourists. In the bazaar, you may buy handmade antique made by local merchants that come from many cities of Turkey. After the square there is the famous Istiklal Street, the street is always crowded due to many reasons, like being a destination for fashion lovers which this street offers, it has many shops all the way long until you reach the end which is the Galata Tower. In addition, you will notice street artists that create a wonderful atmosphere for the people, and many food and café shops if you ever feel hungry or in need of a drink.
When you are walking in the Istiklal street, if you were lucky, during important match days, the local fans of football teams of Istanbul always gather there and chant their team’s songs with fireworks, which they add an amazing and enjoyable atmosphere for many people.
Around the Tower of Galata, there are bars, night clubs, and many restaurants, that have a pretty good view over the tower, during the night the area is quiet and can be relaxing if you ever wanted to enter a bar and have a nice relaxing time with a drink in your hand.
Istanbul has many monuments and relics that are left by the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires but The Tower of Galata is a special monument of Istanbul, the locals and tourists both enjoy being around it since it adds a wonderful atmosphere. During the night the tower is usually lid with beautiful relaxing lights. You will have an outstanding time if you climbed and enjoyed the experience that this wonderful tower has to offer.
History of Galata Tower
Galata is located in Istanbul, where the Golden Horn meets the Bosphorus. The Galata bridges spanned the two shores of the Golden Horn. The name Galata comes from 'gala', which in Greek means milk. It is presumed that the many dairies in the district lent the place this name, although there is no historical evidence of the fact. It could also have come from the Italian word 'calata' or 'the road leading down to the sea', possibly because of the slight slope of the section between Tunel to the shores of Halic.
The region of Galata was famous for its several Latin Catholic churches. Most of these however were destroyed by fires so you may not really see any. Galata also has an abandoned synagogue built by a Jewish banker and many mosques that were built during the Ottoman era. Galata has always been famous for its confluence of many cultures - a place where people from many religions and races got shelter. The warm, tolerant and democratic environment of Galata has been symbolized in the structure of its most famous landmark - the Galata Tower.
Galata Tower in Istanbul, History & Location
At 219 feet high, Galata Tower in Istanbul rules over the Istanbul skyline, offering great views of the old city and its surrounding. The tower is one of the most important attractions in Istanbul.
The medieval stone tower, known as the Tower of Christ, The tower was built in the Romanesque style and it was the tallest building in Istanbul when it was built in 1348.
The tower has been modified over the centuries, Most of them occurred when the area was controlled by the Ottomans empire, at one time being used as an observation tower to spot fires.
Today, its upper reaches include a restaurant and a night club, both reached by elevator in the nine-story building, where one can find the stunning vistas.
As for some interesting tales about the Galata Tower, one of the most well-known stories revolves around the legendary Ottoman aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi.
During the reign of Sultan Murad Khan, the Turkish aviator Hazarfin used wings attached to his arms and flew from the tower to Doğancılar Square in Üsküdar in the Asian side of Istanbul, cutting a distance of 3358 meters.
Due to this spectacular feat, Ahmed Shalabi became one of the most famous figures in the Turkish Air Force. In 1717 the tower was once again used as a control tower to monitor Istanbul.
Luckily, visitors can get up to the tower through the elevator, but the last two floors can only be reached by stairs.
Sights you can see from the top of The Tower
Panorama view from the tower
The tower has a great panoramic view and can be seen many sights from the top of the tower such as Golden Horn Bay, Galata Bridge, the new mosque, the Egyptian market in Eminönü, Sultan Ahmed (Sultanahmet) Mosque, Museum of Hagia Sophia, as well as Bosphorus Bridge.
Where is Galata Tower?
The Galata Tower is located in Istanbul, in the Galata region, close to the Karaköy area (which has a popular fish market and fish restaurants overlooking the sea). It is about 350 meters from the Şişhane metro station at the end of Istiklal Street. It is about 3.5 kilometers from the center of Taksim Square. Nearby the tower are many popular restaurants and cafés.
You can reach the tower via Taksim Square by walking through Istiklal Street or you can go by Taksim’s Tram and then descend at the end of Istiklal Street and continue walking down to the Tower area.
Also you reach under the tower from Eminönü and Karaköy area, by crossing Galata bridge, its about 15-25 minutes by walking.
The History of Galata Tower
Galata Tower is an interesting building with its construction, structural features and of course, the delicate mixture of East Roman, Genoese and Ottoman characteristics.
Who built Galata Tower &ndash There are two stories about the construction of this tower. The first assumption is that Byzantium Empire Anastasios was the first person who built Galata Tower in 528 as a lighthouse. The second assumption dates the history back to 1348 when the Genoese arrived and Galata city walls were built to protect inside. Galata Tower was built to function as a surveillance tower on the walls.
Why was the Galata Tower built &ndash Originally, it is assumed that the need for a lighthouse against Genoese siege was the reason why was the Galata tower built. It became the main tower of Galata city walls for defense in the 14th century.
What was the Galata Tower used for - It is known that the Galata Tower was primarily used for military purposes. The defense function of Galata Tower during the East Romans was converted into the main fire detection tower by the Ottomans and it became a dungeon for dockyard prisoners during Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent.
Why is Galata Tower famous - There are several events underlying the reasons why Galata Tower is famous among travelers of Istanbul. First of all, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi succeeded to fly from Galata Tower to Usküdar Doğancan using his wooden wings in 1638. After the establishment of the first modern Ottoman Fire Brigade in 1714, it started to be used as a fire detection tower due to its height and perfect location. Apart from these successful attempts, a sorrowful event occurred in 1973, when famous Turkish poet Umit Yaşar Oğuzcan&rsquos 15-year-old son Vedat committed suicide, there. The famous poet wrote one of his elegies for the memoir of his son.
What's inside Galata Tower- There is a museum and a restaurant-cafe combination inside Galata Tower. The current conic top, which has 14 windows, was designed and added to the structure during the reign of Mahmut II in the 19th century. Today, this part serves visitors as a nice restaurant with a terrace to have a panoramic view of the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn and real Istanbul.
Galata Tower was initially built during the expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople in 1348. It was by then the tallest building in Istanbul. It was actually the apex of fortifications that surrounded the Genoese citadel of the Galata. During the Ottoman Empire, the upper part of the tower was modified in several different restorations. It was by then used as the observation deck for spotting fires.
Starting in 1717, Ottomans began using the tower to spot fires in and around the city. During the reign of Sultan Selim III in 1794, the tower’s roof and stairs were seriously destroyed by a fire. Later, in 1831, another fire damaged the building. After this new restoration work took place.
In 1875, during a very heavy storm, the roof at the top of this tower was destroyed. Due to this damage, the tower remained without the conic roof for the rest of the Ottoman period. Finally, from 1965 to 1967, during the Turkish Republic, the original cap of the tower was finally restored.
During the final restoration process that took place in 1960’s, the original wooden interior of Galata Tower was replaced with a concrete structure. The tower was then commercialized and opened to the general public.
Galata Tower Museum, A tour in history of Istanbul – All you need to know
The Galata Tower in Istanbul, also known in Latin as the tower of Christ, is a beautiful archaeological tower in the European part of the city, and it is considered one of the monuments built in the Byzantine period that still receives tourists to this day, as it is one of the most important tourist attractions in the city.
The tower was built directly on the Golden Horn Bay in Istanbul, located near the Bosphorus strait, which is one of the most important features that characterize Istanbul, as it is the only city in the world that is located on two different continents.
Galata Tower was known in the 14th century as the tallest building in Istanbul.
Entrance to the Galata Tower in Istanbul
The tower consists of 3 sections: the entrance, the restaurant and the upper visitor section. Visitors use the elevators in the tower to reach the upper 7 floors. The last two floors of the tower can only be reached through the stairs.
Once you enter this ancient tower, you will travel on a journey through history and enjoy the passage of time, seeing this tower with its entire structure and beautiful architecture, which will make you stand before it in a state of amazement and fascination. This architecture looks exactly like the European towers showing itself in the heart of Istanbul, where tourists can enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views that bring together the two continents of Asia and Europe, between the Bosphorus narrow and the Golden Horn Bay, where all sections of Istanbul combine together.
It is worth noting that the Galata Tower consists of 9 floors in the 14th century. It is about 66.9 meters high (220 Feet).
The main entrance to the Galata Tower
In order to be able to see the Galata Tower in Istanbul, you must go to Istiklal Street in the Galata District, you can of course see the tower easily on your way at the end of the street. Where you can see the winding stone stairs that lead to the square where the tower is located.
And if you want to go to Istanbul. This is a unique opportunity, which must be tried to enjoy watching the Bosphorus strait and discover the most important monuments in the city from above, such as the Hagia Sophia Mosque.
Go to the top of the Galata tower and enjoy seeing all this beauty and splendor in one place, and of course we also have good news for those who find it difficult to cross the stairs for any reason. As the tower is equipped with an elevator during the recent renovations, so you can easily reach the seventh floor of the tower, in which case you will have to go through the remaining two floors on foot again.
The upper section in the Galata Tower in Istanbul
One of the things that all tourists want to experience as soon as they enter this tower, is to climb to the highest point of the tower, to see one of the most beautiful landscapes integrated with the beauty and civilization of Istanbul, in one place.
You can enjoy the scenery surrounding the tower and the Bosphorus strait to the fullest extent, and if you are hungry, you can also have a unique meal in this tower and try the best Turkish food and sweets, you can also take souvenir pictures dressed as a Turkish Sultan in the tower.
History of the Galata Tower in Istanbul
Seven hundred years ago, and perhaps more than that, during the reign of the Roman Empire, the tower was built and named as the Tower of Christ, later called Galata, but in 1461 another tower was built next to the Galata Tower at the request of the ruler in that period.
The tower was used as an astronomical observatory for a period of time by the scientist Takieddine, after which the tower was closed in 1579. It is interesting to note that the tower at first, was used only as a tall guard building to protect urban guards. However, in the following years, it became a prison, and therefore this building was repaired several times, especially the upper part of it, and of course, it should be noted that this is the only reform process in the history of the tower, to be rebuilt in this way.
The tower was not as long and beautiful as it is today, but between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Galata Tower was ablaze several times, damaging the roof and part of the building until, and after a few years, the tower was restored and the conical roof resembling the tip of the pencil was built. To avoid damage and destruction.
As we mentioned, the Galata Tower has been repeatedly destroyed throughout its long history, whether due to natural disasters or wars and fire, and the most severe of these damages, was that caused by the 1509. Earthquake. At this time, the tower was used as a secret prison, and helped restore it one of the most famous architects of the country then, and after rebuilding the tower, the tower was no longer used as a prison again.
In 1794, during the reign of the Ottomans, the tower was burned again, but after its restoration, a small wooden room was added inside the tower.
It is interesting that this is not the only time the tower falls prey to fire. In the era of Sultan Mahmud, the tower was renewed and restored once again after it burned, and two more floors were added to the tower.
Finally, this tower was last renovated in 1960. The restaurant was built inside the tower, to become one of the most famous restaurants in Istanbul.
Sections of the Galata Tower in Istanbul
During the historical events of the Galata Tower, it was renewed over and over again, but in some of these reconstruction and repair operations, new parts were added to it, which made the architecture and design of this tower even more exciting. It multiplies its beauty, and you should also know that this tower, like other buildings, consists of several sections.
1 – Entrance
In this section, you can take advantage of the information center located in the Galata Tower or ask the tour guides stationed in this section, then go up the tower through the elevator or spiral staircase.
2 – The upper visitor section
It can be said that the most attractive part of the Galata Tower, is the upper visitor section that most tourists visit to see a 360 degree panoramic view of Istanbul. On this large section, you can see all the sights of this beautiful city in one place. From the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Topkapi Palace and Bosphorus Bridge to the Sea of Marmara and the unique Hagia Sophia Mosque.
Note that the best time to visit Galata Tower is in the early morning, as it is one of the most popular attractions in Istanbul and is very busy in the middle of the day. Unless you want to see the sunset from one of the most beautiful areas of Istanbul, in that case we say enjoy the view and good luck.
3- Galata Tower Restaurant & Cafe ( Canceled )
The Galata Tower Restaurant is undoubtedly one of the most famous restaurants in Istanbul, and it is worth the experience, because the dining experience in the longest historical tower in Constantinople with a charming view of the beautiful city of Istanbul can not be easily found anywhere.
It is worth Noting that the restaurant and cafe in Galata Tower was closed, after it was converted to a museum
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How to go to Galata Tower in Istanbul
Upon entering the end of Istiklal Street, you can see the beautiful and amazing Galata Tower, that can be reached easily, through the use of public transportation in Istanbul, where you can use the Istanbul Metro line and get off at a station called Şişane Station next to the Tower.
You can also get off at Taksim metro station, entering from the beginning of the famous Istiklal Street directly to the tower.
The Galata Tower, Galata Kulesi in Turkish, is one of the highest and oldest towers of Istanbul. 63 meter (206 feet) high tower provides a panoramic view of the old town. It was built in the 14th century by the Genoese colony as part of the defense wall surrounding their district at Galata directly opposite ancient Constantinopolis.
They called the tower as "Christea Turris", or "Tower of Christ". The Genoese were involved in trade with the Byzantines and the tower was used for the surveillance of the Harbor in the Golden Horn. After the conquest of Constantinople by Mehmet II, it served to detect fires in the city.
Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi was the first flying Turk during the Ottoman Empire of the 17th century. He copied bird wings and studied air flows, than jumping from the Galata Tower he overflew the Bosphorus and landed at Uskudar district on the Asian side, around 6 kilometers (4 miles) in distance.
After the Republic, Galata Tower was restored and opened to the public in 1967. The tower houses a cafeteria on top, there was also a night club which is closed down after the last restoration in 2013. A couple of elevators will take you up but there are still three more floors to climb by stairs to get on the panoramic terrace which is 52 meters above the ground. A small souvenir shop is located inside the tower just across the ticket office at the entrance level.
The price of the entrance ticket to the Galata Tower is 25 Turkish Liras.
Hours & schedule
The tower is open every day from 09:00am until 08:30pm, but the Open Days & Hours may change by Official & Public Holidays
How to get there?
Go to Taksim Square, then you can walk through Istiklal Street towards the tower, it is at the end of it.
The most important religious buildings:
San Paolo and San Domenico Church : This building was built between 1323 and 1337. It was converted to a mosque by Fatih and known also as Arap Camii since spanish muslim arabs who were compelled to migrate from their country, were settled in an area near to this mosque. Although it underwent a lot of change, it still has some windows with sharp pointed arcades on the side of niche, at Gothic style, the divisions covered by vaults and previous belfry at the type of chuches of North Italy. Now, this belfry is the minaret.
St. Pierre et Paul : This church was built in this place by Genoeses in XV. Century and was given to Domenican priests in 1475 against St. Paul church which was converted into a mosque by the name of Arap camii. The church and its monastery adjacent burned two times in 1660 and 1731 and were rebuilt. Present building was repaired and gained its present situation by an Italian architect Fossetti between 1842 and 1843.
St. Pierre Khan : Saint Pierre Khan which was built by Comte de Saint Priest , Ambassador of French Kingdom in 1771, as a bank and dwelling house , is a sample of khans in european style in this region. In front side of it there are armorial bearings of French Kingdom and Saint-Priest and an inscription indicating that Poet André Chénier (1762-1794) was born in this building. Since this Khan was built after the birth of Chénier , maybe this inscription means that this poet was born in a building located in the same place previously.