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Galata Tower in Istanbul

Istanbul attracts tourists with an abundance of attractions. Many of them have become hallmarks of the city. The Galata Tower is considered to be not only one of the oldest buildings. It dominates modern high-rises, confidently leading in height at 66 m. Adding to its impressiveness is the fact that it is built on a hill and its walls can be seen from almost anywhere in the capital.

History of the Galata Tower

On the shore of the Bosphorus Strait, the Byzantines badly needed a lighthouse that would signal ships and lead them into the harbor. And it appeared in 507 during the reign of Emperor Justinian.

The first version of the Galata Tower in Istanbul was built of wood.

It stood for a long time, and by the 14th century it had stone walls, decorative arched windows that served to focus the light beams of the lighthouse, and a cone-shaped roof with a spire. The building was capital, with walls more than 3.5 m thick and a base width of 9 m.

Galata Tower in Istanbul

After the conquest of Byzantium by the Turks, the functions of the Galata Tower were expanded. An observatory was opened on the upper tier, an observation deck was added to warn of fires, and the lower floor was converted into prison cells. The last reconstruction was conducted in the mid-20th century, during which the Galata Tower changed its interior and acquired the status of a museum.

The main point of interest is the observation deck, which offers a panoramic view of most of the capital. An alternative is a stylish and expensive restaurant on the upper levels, from the windows, too, you can see all the beauty of the city, as an appendix to a refined menu and a comfortable table.

Galata Tower - Istanbul, Turkey

The view from the Galata Tower is considered one of the best, the view is available at 360 degrees, in the distance you can see the slender candles of the minarets, the bustle of the Grand Bazaar, pleasure boats on the blue surface of the Golden Horn, modern high-rise buildings of new quarters.

The chronicles preserved another name – Hezarfen Kulesi.

The reason was the successful experiment of the scientist and test pilot Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi, who managed to fly from the top of the tower to the other side of the Bosporus Strait, gliding on the wings of his own design. The reward for the daredevil was controversial. Sultan Murad IV admired the courage and innovative ideas of the young man, but at the insistence of his advisors granted him a purse of gold and sent him into honorable exile in Algeria, so as not to confuse the minds of his subjects with strange inventions.

Description of the Galata Tower

Inside the Galata Tower (Istanbul)

Externally, the Galata Tower remained almost unchanged. The main transformations were in the interior rooms. An elevator was installed, and now guests choose whether to take the old stairs or use the achievement of civilization.

Almost under the roof, on the penultimate tier, visitors are offered a photo opportunity in the national Turkish costume. You have to pay 5 euros. When you visit a restaurant, you don’t have to order a fancy dinner. You can just enjoy a cup of fragrant coffee while viewing the city from a bird’s eye view.

Galata Tower Restaurant in Istanbul

The gift store needs no comment; it offers the traditional set, from magnets depicting the tower to its scaled-down replicas. The tower has 9 floors. The elevator only takes visitors up to 7. The last 2 tiers must be overcome by an ancient staircase with steep high steps. It’s sometimes difficult to pass those who are already going down. Many people, hesitating between the outdoor area and the comfortable view from the restaurant window, choose the latter option. A cup of tea costs 6 lira for a visitor, coffee is 2 lira more expensive, but no one prevents you from stretching your drink out to the whole time you are admiring the surroundings.

Interesting Facts

  • The first structure was built of wood.
  • At first the tower was erected as a lighthouse.
  • From its upper gallery the first successful flight over the Bosporus was made.
  • The Galata Tower has changed its height several times over the centuries during reconstructions.
  • Prices for its visit are high, but it does not reduce the flow of tourists.

How to get to the Galata Tower?

Galata Tower, Istanbul - history, opening hours

The Galata Tower is in the so-called European part. Once the mansions of ambassadors and merchant guilds were built there, for which the locals quickly dubbed the place on the hill the Infidel Quarter. The structure almost closes Istiklal Street.

There are several ways to get from Sultanahmet to the Galata Tower:

  • by streetcar, getting off at the first stop after the Galata Bridge;
  • by cab;
  • as part of the tour;
  • by subway, Shishane station.

If the hotel is close to the tower, you can walk to it. From the Asian part of town it is more convenient to take the ferry and then walk up the mountain.

Galata Tower on the map of Istanbul

The cost of tickets to the Galata Tower Museum

Tourists are valued in the museum more, so the entrance for them and more expensive than for locals, 10 lire. Residents of the capital buy an admission ticket for 25 Turkish liras. Children under the age of 5 are admitted free anyway.

Galata Tower starts at 9:00, the reception of tourists continues until 20:30. The restaurant offers national and European menus, but more often they come here to order a cup of coffee for 8 liras and sit at a table near the window to admire the amazing architecture of Istanbul without interruption.

Reviews of a visit to the Galata Tower

Julia, 29 years old:

We came to the tower with a guided tour. There wasn’t much time to look around, we ran through the rooms, even went up to the observation deck in an elevator, not on foot. The view is beautiful, it was a pleasure to look around. We didn’t stay long, took pictures and went down to the 7th floor. Walking up and down the stairs is scary, it’s pretty steep. From there, take the elevator again. Good thing we were warned about the prices of souvenirs, we bought them on the next street 3 times cheaper.

Marina, 37 years old:

From the old part of town we took the streetcar, then the underground cable car. I was a little confused by the line at the entrance. But it moved quickly, without noise or figuring out who was standing where. As we waited, inspecting the exterior walls, it seemed that there would be medieval asceticism inside as well. The interior was quite modern, even the elevator worked. We did not tempt fate, we walked. We stopped by the restaurant, smiled at the prices, and continued our ascent. On the upper gallery we took our time to look at all of Istanbul. The visibility is excellent, quite a substitute for a sightseeing tour. The ships gliding along the bay are especially beautiful. Admired the skill of the architects, Galata Tower stands for almost 20 centuries.

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