Everything you need to know about Galata Tower Istanbul

Galata Tower Tickets

The Galata Tower Istanbul is undoubtedly one of the most iconic monuments in the peninsula that offers the most stellar visuals of the entire city. Located close to the junction of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, it has scintillating views of the entire Istanbul peninsula and its surroundings. Formerly known as Constantinople, Istanbul has a rich history that has seen nearly 2,500 years of conflicting surges of religion, culture, and imperial power. This guide will take you through Galata Tower's history and also some interesting facts regarding its uses in the bygone eras.

Galata Tower Istanbul Highlights

Galata Tower About
  • It is not exactly recorded when the tower was built but it is said that the tower came to life around 527 AD, during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian.
  • The tower had many names like the ‘Christea Turris,’ or the Tower of Christ as the Genoese liked to call it, while the Byzantines preferred to call the tower the ‘Megalos Pyrgos,’ or the Great Tower.
  • The tower suffered heavy damage in 1509 when a massive earthquake hit Istanbul, but it was later restored by the famous Ottoman architect, Hayreddin.
Galata Tower About
  • The tower was also used as a prison during the reign of Ottoman Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent. 
  • In the 16th century famous astrologer, Takiyüddin Efendi added an observatory at the very top of the tower.
  • Around 1794 the tower was destroyed by a fire but it was restored during the reign of Sultan Selim III, who also added a comba (alcove). 

Galata Tower History 

The Galata Tower is a medieval aged tower in the Galata Quarter of Istanbul, Turkey. It is a marvelous amalgamation of east Roman, Genoese, and Ottoman characteristics. The varied influences of these empires can be seen in their myriad architecture. Among the many towers in Istanbul, the Galata is undoubtedly the oldest and most iconic one. The tower is 219 ft high, cone-capped, and cylindrical; with a total of nine stories, which made it the city’s tallest structure when it was built. 

The birth of Galata Tower Istanbul is shrouded in mystery as there are 2 varied theories. By the first theory, the Byzantium Emperor Justinian built the tower as a lighthouse in 527 A.D. In 1348, the Genoese Colony arrived and rebuilt the monument inside the Galata city walls for protection from the invaders. The Galata Tower provided excellent surveillance from inside the walls of the city and had crucial military importance. It was also later used as a fire detection tower during the Ottoman Empire before it was converted into a prison during the rule of Sultan Suleiman ‘The Magnificent’.

A  famous story of the Galata Tower revolves around the legendary Ottoman aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi. According to stories Hezârfen Çelebi attached wooden wings to his arms and flew from the top of the tower to Doğancılar Square in Üsküdar with wings attached to his arms. This extraordinary feat made the then Sultan Murad Khan very suspicious of the man which resulted in him being sent to exile in Algeria. The story of Hezârfen Çelebi's extraordinary feat has been passed down through generations in Istanbul and is now a popular backstory to the Galata Tower.

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Skip-the-Line Tickets to Galata Tower with Optional Walking Tour

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Galata Tower Istanbul: FAQs

Why was the Galata Tower Istanbul built?

It was built as a lighthouse or a watchtower, mainly for the defense of the city.

Why is the Galata Tower important?

Erected in the 14th century, Galata Tower is an important part of the city’s history as it played a prime part of the defense wall surrounding the district.

What does Galata mean?

The word Galata is a variant of the Italian word calata, which refers to a section of the docks of the ports intended for the mooring of merchant ships.

Who built the Galata Tower?

The birth of the Galata Tower is shrouded in mystery but it is debated that either the Romans or the Genoese Colony built the Tower.

Is the restoration of Galata Tower complete?

The Galata Tower was recently renovated by the government and has reopened to the public in 2021 after the restoration process was completed.

How many stairs does Galata Tower Istanbul have?

The Galata Tower has 146 stairs inside the tower.

Is there an elevator in Galata Tower?

Yes, there is an elevator in Galata Tower that takes you up to the topmost floor of the building.

Is the restaurant still open at Galata Tower?

No, the restaurant/cafe was closed down after the recent restoration done by the government.