March 27, 2021

The Galata Tower: Incredible Views of Istanbul

Istanbul, Turkey
Moderate
1-2 hours

Welcome to the Galata Tower located in Istanbul, Turkey. I would highly recommend checking out this incredible location if you’re traveling through Istanbul. This amazing sight was built in the 14th century as a fortress to protect the district. Most of the walls are gone now, but the tower still stands tall today for locals and tourists to admire. Not only is this location full of rich history, but it’s also a beautiful structure to view and walk through, especially at night. 

History of the Tower

The Galata Tower dates back to 1348. There’s a huge plaque that states it was resurrected in May 1453, when Galata surrendered to the Ottomans following the conquest of Constantinople. The tower used to be known as the ‘Christea Turris,’ meaning the Tower of Christ, by the Genoese. The Byzantines called it the ‘Megalos Pyrgos,’ which means the Great Tower. During the Genoese period, the tower was inhabited by the colonies of the Republic of Genoa and served as economic and trade posts for the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

During part of the Ottoman reign in the 16th century, between 1546 and 1595, the Galata Tower was used as a prison to hold the prisoners of war. In the 17th century, the tower was used by the Ottoman military. Then the tower became a fire observatory from 1717 to 1962 because of its panoramic views of the city. In the years to follow, two fires caused a need for restoration. Through these restorations, the tower gained two more floors and a conical-shaped tip. Today, the Galata Tower stands at 219 feet and serves as a popular tourist attraction.

Design

In 1509, the tower was severely damaged by an earthquake, but was later restored by Hayreddin, who was a famous Ottoman architect. There’s a total of nine floors in the Galata Tower. The tower consists of narrow stairways leading to the top, which is an observation deck. From the observation floor, you can see all of Istanbul, which is super cool. You can view old Istanbul, all of the different districts that currently exist, and the waterway that divides the continent of Asia and Europe. So, when you’re on one side you’re looking at Asia, and when you’re on the other side, you’re looking at Europe. It’s pretty cool to see.

The elevator takes guests up seven floors, but the last two floors, leading to the observation deck, are only accessible by climbing the stairs. This tower offers an amazing 360-degree view of Istanbul. On your way up, you can look out of a ton of different size windows to see Istanbul.

The Experience 

To get to the tower, we walked through narrow, cobblestone alleyways, which was super cool. We saw the most beautiful dog on the way, as you can see below. When we got to the Galata Tower, it was super packed. So, it took over forty minutes to get through the line after purchasing the tickets. This is also during the pandemic, so I can only imagine other times of the year! However, the wait was worth it because it’s truly beautiful. We had such a great time learning about the history of the tower. Also, we were able to take in the incredible views of the city. I would highly recommend this attraction if you’re looking to be surrounded by Turkish culture. 

Thanks for joining me on this wild journey of exploring the world through a global pandemic. We have loved wandering through Turkey. It’s been so fun, and I look forward to sharing more experiences with you. If you would like to read about more our adventures in Turkey, you can catch up here

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Big Guy Big World is a travel blog, following Mark Jacoby’s journey as a big guy on a bigger journey, exploring the world during a global pandemic. Follow along as we experience some of the world’s most beautiful and exotic places.

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