Travel stories

Discover the early days of the Galata Tower

The tower was built in the Romanesque style – a popular form of architecture back then. It was initially called the Tower of Christ (Christea Turris). It was erected in 1348 by the Genovese, soon after an invasion in the area.

The tower was not built from scratch, but its main role was to replace a similar structure – quite smaller though. The original structure was known as the Great Tower – a Byzantine construction with the primary role to control the Golden Horn entrance. It was built on another site, yet it was completely destroyed in 1203.

The Galata Tower went through a series of renovations overtime. Most of them occurred when the area was controlled by the Ottomans. Apart from its military purpose, it also had civil roles during peaceful times. It was most commonly used to spot fires from a long distance and react accordingly when the area was not at war.

Most restorations affected the roof, which was often destroyed by fires or severe storms. At some point, Ottomans decided to stop reconstructing it.

The 18th century was quite peaceful for Istanbul. Therefore, the Galata Tower was mostly used with civil purposes. After 1875, its reconstruction was no longer a viable project due to the multiple disasters from the previous years.

A few more renovations occurred in the 20th century, with the last important one between 1965 and 1967. The roof was rebuilt from scratch.

Once it was over, the area was no longer a war zone. The authorities decided to replace the wooden interior with concrete and open the tower to the public. It is now one of the most important attractions around Istanbul.

What to know before you visit the Galata Tower

Reaching the Galata Tower is fairly simple. It is located within a large residential area, as well as one of the main shopping areas in the city. Getting there is fairly simple by car or public transportation – even without a guide.

No matter what you use for transportation, try to find the Taksim Square. It is quite popular, so you will have no difficulties. Once in the square, locate the Istiklal Street and walk until you reach the tower. The tower is located at the end of the street. If you want to explore more places on your way there, get a Big Bus for tourists.

The tower is open pretty much every single day, apart from random maintenance days or public holidays. You can only visit it during the day.

If you can, visit early in the day. Mornings are less crowded. Evening can also be alright if you take the stairs to the top, rather than the lift.

There are two elevators on site to take you to the balcony of the Galata Tower and their capacity is limited. Since most people refuse to spend so much time going up the stairs, the place can get busy at times.

Once on top, you will also find a formal restaurant. A little square is located at the top of the tower – more restaurants and bars.