Galata Tower is situated in the bustling Istanbul district of Galata. This medieval attraction occupies an important place in the city’s history, and rewards visitors with stunning views if they climb up to the top.
History of the Galata Tower
Galata Tower’s roots stretch right back to the sixth century, when it was built as the Lighthouse Tower by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius. Originally, the tower was made with wood, but when it was taken by the Genoese in 1348 it was rebuilt with stone and named the Tower of Christ. At the time, Galata was a walled Genoese trading colony in Constantinople, the old name for Istanbul.
After the Ottoman Conquest of Constantinople in 1453, Galata Tower was used as a dungeon and then an observatory. In the 17th century, the early aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi is said to have launched himself from Galata Tower with wooden wings and flown over the Bosphorous to the Asian side of the city. 100 years later, it became a watch tower that helped to spot fires breaking out around the city.
Views from the tower
Today, visitors can climb up Galata Tower to its viewing platform. The tower is 66m tall and offers guests breathtaking panoramas of Istanbul. From the tower, many of the city’s major sights are visible, including the Haghia Sophia, Sultanahmet Mosque and the famous Golden Horn, which separates Istanbul’s European and Asian halves.
Galata is widely considered to be Istanbul’s modern centre, so travellers will find many things to do near the tower. Stroll down bustling Istikal Street and Taksim Square, explore contemporary art at Istanbul Modern or discover Istanbul’s Jewish history at Galata’s synagogues.