Galata Tower- The symbol of Istanbul

Galata Tower- The symbol of Istanbul

Galata Tower

Information about the Tower

One of the best tourist attraction places in Istanbul is the Galata Tower for sure. Having a 360 view of the city is fantastic. You can simply enjoy historical peninsula since you have a great altitude. Additionally, the tower is mostly known with the flying man- Hezarfen Celebi who flew from the balcony and passed the Bosphorus. This is amazing, isn’t it? Flying from Europe to Asia in the 1600s looks weird.

These are some basic things why this tower is very famous and significant. Basically, you can really feel Istanbul when you go to the top of the tower and you can understand the importance. Moreover, its architecture is also fantastic.

The tower has been used for different purposes from the beginning. The tower is located in Galata which is pretty close to Karakoy and Taksim. So, this means that the tower district and neighborhood are also good.

Moreover, the Galata Tower is in the Unesco Tentative List under Trading Posts and Fortifications on Genoese Trade Routes from the Mediterranean to the Black Sea [1].

Galata Tower itself
Fantastic Galata Tower

So, let’s go deeper!! 🙂

Galata Tower- Description

It is also known as Galata Kulesi in Turkish. It was built in the 1300s and completed in 1348 A.D. [2] The tower was constructed by the Genoese colony. Right after, the tower was named as “the tower of Jesus”.

The material is all stone. It is 69.9 meters long which corresponds to ~220 ft. However, some resources say that the length is 67 meters. Additionally, the tower was one of the highest buildings in Istanbul during those periods. It has nine stories. Moreover, the wall thickness is ~3.75 m (12.3 ft).

On the top, the tower has a big cone-capped cylinder. That cone fell by a storm in 1875 but was restored.

Additionally, there was another tower standing exactly on the same place and had been destroyed by the fires, earthquakes and the Fourth Crusaders. That tower had been made from wood in 500s, so damage risk is always high, you know. The old tower was built by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius.

After the conquest of Istanbul, the Galata tower had been used as a jail, watchtower and observation house. It was restored multiple times during the Ottoman period. Also, the last two stories and the cone have been added in the 1800s.

After the Turkish Republic foundation, it was converted a public location and the latest restoration was completed in 1967.

Galata Tower- Tales

Many people believe that if a girl and a boy go to the tower together, they get married. But, this should be the first time for both of them. Basically, this belief comes from the old times. So, as expected the tower heard a lot of “Will you marry me?” questions from different people 🙂

The second one is the love between the Galata Tower and Maiden’s Tower. So, you know they can’t be together because of the Bosphorus. Hezarfen Celebi flew from Galata to Uskudar and while he was around Maiden’s tower, he threw the letters collected by the Galata tower. And then, Maiden’s tower understood that the Galata was also deep in love with it. So, Maiden’s tower flourished.

Galata Tower- View

Look at this fantastic panorama. Do you know these places? You can see Topkapi Palace, Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Suleymaniye Mosque, the bridge, Beyazit Tower and more on. These are Istanbul’s top touristic places.

Galata Tower- view from the balcony
Galata Tower- Historical Peninsula view

The balcony or observation deck is mostly very crowded. Get ready! The sunset is also fascinating.

Halic, Galata Bridge, Suleymaniye mosque
Galata Tower- One more good view

Additionally, taking a photo around the tower is also good. There are many good points, but you are responsible to find those spots. Especially, you can capture great photos around the tower during night.

Galata Tower- Things to do

Inside the tower, you can go to the top and enjoy the view. And you can eat good enough meals at the restaurant and/or the cafe. And there is one more option. You can try 4d fly ride to see the best sights of Istanbul in a simulator. But, this is Istanbul where reality beats simulators 🙂

What to do near Galata Tower?

There are many activities you can do around the tower. Its spot is very close to the top touristic places that you can feel and enjoy it very much. You can go to the top touristic places easily from the tower.

Other than these, Istiklal Street is really good even the street is not preferred by local people in these days. You can go to good restaurants and you can shop at good boutiques. If you’d like to buy souvenirs, try to spend some time around the tower to see. When you start walking down Istiklal, there are many souvenirs shop that you can buy good pieces. Or, you can prefer to buy inside of the tower.

Galata Tower souvenir shop
Souvenir inside of the tower

If you search for a good meal and view, try to find out the rooftop restaurants. Eleos, Divan Brasserie, Peninsula Teras Restaurant – Golden City Hotel, Mikla Restaurant – The Marmara Pera Hotel, Leb-i Derya and Mukellef restaurants are pretty good.

About nightlife, you can go to Nardis Jazz Club or Pub Crawl Istanbul. For good wine, you can try Sensus.

Additionally, there are also some places that you can watch whirling dervishes.

When to visit the Galata Tower?

Galata Tower is always good. However, cloudy and rainy weather can prevent taking good photos. Additionally, you can simply check our best season for Istanbul post. And as we mentioned, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Istanbul.

How to climb to the Galata Tower?

Does the Galata tower have a lift?

Of course, the tower has a lift. So, you can use the elevator to go up to the 7th floor and there are a number of stairs to 9th floor- observation deck.

You can both use the stairs and elevator to the exit.

How many stairs in the Galata Tower?

We didn’t count the steps, but we went down by using the stairs. Some references say that there are a total of 146 steps. Watch out the ceilings since they are not high enough, and it can be tough if you are tired. But there are some small windows that you can capture good photos, you can try if you are more interested in 🙂

Low ceilings to the exit
Galata Tower- Stairs to the exit

Galata Tower- Cafe

We tried many cafes around Galata, but our favorite is definitely Ceneviz cafe just a minute when you walk down to Karakoy. The spirit is very good and the coffee is very delicious.

Ceneviz cafe close to the tower
Ceneviz Cafe

You can also prefer to drink at the Galata cafe, but in the summertime, the closed area might not be a good option. Also, Istanbul Bookstore Coffee Shop is a good spot to drink Turkish coffee just on the second floor of Karakoy Pier.

Cafe
The cafe in the tower

Galata Tower- Working hours

Galata Tower is open every day. Regardless of the day, the visiting hours start at 9:00 a.m. And, the observation deck or balcony is closed at 8:30 p.m. But as you know, the management has always right to change it, please also be careful about national holidays.

Galata Tower- Entrance fee

Ok, we know that you waited too much, it is time to pay and note that it is not free for adults. Children under the age of 7 can enter the tower without paying anything. Please also note that the museum pass for a non-Turkish person and museum card for Turkish person is not valid like Beylerbeyi Palace, Basilica Cistern, and Dolmabahce Palace. It is unfortunate. You can find the list below.

Non-Turkish person ticket price: The admission fee is 35 Turkish Liras, helicopter tour simulation is optional and 15 TL.

Turkish person ticket price: 15 TL and the simulation is 12 TL.

Turkish student: Students can enter the tower just paying 7.5 TL and simulation is 10 TL only.

Unfortunately, you can’t use a credit card and you can only pay cash. Moreover, it is also bad there is no available online platform you can buy the tickets. Apparently, these two negative things should be improved.

Is the Galata Tower in Europe or Asia?

The Galata Tower is on the European side. The address is Bereketzade, Galata Kulesi Sk., 34421 Beyoglu/Istanbul. So, if you need coordinates, here it is 41°01’35.85″ N – 28°58’26.88″ E. Check the tower on Google maps below for more info.

Galata Tower- Skip the line

Yes, the line can be challenging. We waited around an hour to get into the tower during our last visit. But, that was on a Sunday around 4 p.m which means a prime-time.

Galata Tower- long line
Long queue to enter the tower

While we were there, we have been asked by a family to sell our spots. Even this was not our first time in the queue for the tower, we were surprised by this proposal. But we assume there are some people selling their spots in the queue :). That was a weird cliche in Turkey at stadium entrances in the history but looks like still going on.

Other than this, you can make a reservation to the restaurant and then pass the line. That is one of the ways you can pass the challenging lines. However, please check the Galata Tower restaurant section to learn more.

Galata Tower- Restaurant

You can find the official website of the tower [3]. But, we couldn’t find the English version, however, you can still translate it.

You can check the menu and the prices via this link [4]. The menu is quite good both serves traditional and non-traditional foods.

Ideally, dinner would be the best option, but breakfast and lunch can be preferred as well. You can make a reservation by calling this number +90 (212) 293 81 80. If they don’t answer, do not hesitate to try and try again. But, note that you should make the reservation before 1 week for top touristic days for dinner. For lunch, it is not really necessary. But for breakfast, you would prefer to make it.

Moreover, making a reservation has also one more benefit. If you make it, you can skip the line. But you still need to pay the entrance fee even you have the reservation. The restaurant is open till 10 p.m. Also, don’t forget, eating at the restaurant doesn’t mean you can go to the observation deck till 10.00 p.m. Remember the closure where we mentioned in the working hours’ section.

From our perspective, there are many good restaurants around the tower. So, if you can’t make it, don’t feel bad because there are many options.

Projection-Mapping

The Galata Tower is also famous about light and sound show. When you search about the tower, we are sure that you noticed some videos around showing the light or laser show.

Unfortunately, there are no specific dates about these 3d light shows. In 2018, there was a 10 days period in May during the Istanbul Youth Festival. That show was definitely amazing. In 2019, there was a green lightning reflection on the tower during the green crescent week. So, it is like no specific schedule for these video mappings or night shows, but you have a big chance to see something during important weeks. Again, we can say that it is random.

But the lighting of the tower is definitely pretty cool that you can enjoy the tower at nights.

The tower during night
Galata Tower during night

How to Reach the Galata Tower- Transportation Guide

Regardless of the location, you can simply go to Karakoy pier or Sishane station. After that, it is into the walking distance.

We are also writing some locations if you want to go from the tower.

From Taksim Square

There are many ways but do not consider a bus or a taxi. It is just 2 kilometers which can take up to 30 minutes by walking based on your tempo. You will walk thru Istiklal street which we believe is a “must-do” activity even the street lost its popularity in the last years.

The other option you can consider is to catch M2 from the square and then go to Sishane. Only one stop, but walking on Istiklal is the best choice.

You can also consider this explanation as from Galata to Taksim square as well.

From Sultanahmet/Blue Mosque

You know Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque, Basilica Cistern and Topkapi Palace are in the same region.

Here is one of the best routes in Istanbul. This will take a total of 20 minutes by walking. So, we definitely recommend you to pass the Galata bridge and take photos. You will notice a lot of fishermen regardless of the season. After passing the bridge, you see where the tower is, just try to reach your destination 🙂

When you are at Eminonu, it is also easy to go to Grand Bazaar.

From Kadikoy

The best option is to go there by ferry. The operators are City Lines/ Sehir Hatlari and Turyol. We really like this route. Because you can very much enjoy the view from the ferry. So, take a look at the Hagia Sophia, Blue Mosque and the Topkapi Palace while you are on it.

When you reach to Karakoy pier, you should walk 10-15 minutes to reach the tower by walking.

Karakoy pier
Karakoy pier

In case of any bad weather conditions (the ferries are sometimes canceled),  you can use the combination of Marmaray and M2.

To Sabiha Gokcen airport

There are some options available, but we would prefer two of them. These options are to use Havabus buses from Taksim square or Kadikoy. We believe you already know how to go to Taksim square and Kadikoy.

To Istanbul new airport

This can be challenging. If you want to use Havaist buses, you should go to Taksim Abdulhak Hamit Street to catch the bus. You can also walk till there, but it will take time. Other than this, you can still use M2 from Sishane to Taksim and then walk 10 minutes to the bus stop.

Additionally, you can still go to Sultanahmet or Yenikapi to catch the buses as well.

If you have a big suitcase, you can still consider the taxi option. Note that it is around 40 kilometers and the cost will be above 100-150 Turkish Lira depending on the traffic jam.

To Eyupsultan

Taxi option is good since the distance is just around 6 km. If you prefer public transportation, you can use 55T, 44B or 99A from different locations. Please note that you should walk at least 10 min. to the stops. Check this site to learn more [5].

To Ortakoy

We think that the best option is a taxi since it is around 8 km. Other than this, you can still use public transportation but can be challenging. There are many options but using M2 from Sishane to Taksim and DT1 looks like a good option. Additionally, you can go to Karakoy and then go to Ortakoy by 30D.

Extra Topics

Galata Tower in Assassin’s Creed

Are you a gamer? Prince of Persia and Assassin’s Creed really opened a different perspective into gaming. Designed by Ubisoft. The series is fantastic, however, we really like Revelations and has become our favorite since the story takes place in Istanbul and Cappadocia even though there are a couple of basic mistakes.

The story reflects Ottomans in the 1500s. Check out these posts (6 to 10) if you are still searching the animus fragment or hidden treasures on the Galata Tower or interested in Galata section of Revelations.[6,7,8,9,10]

Don’t forget to use your parachute!! Btw, will miss you Ezio 🙁

Is the Galata Tower worth visiting?

No need to ask. You will not regret it. So, definitely arrange some time to see the fascinating historical peninsula from this altitude. You can enjoy and relax with this great view.

Conclusion

The tower is one of our favorite locations in Istanbul. Galata’s location is very good and close to top places. The district is also fantastic and has good restaurants, shops, etc.

We recommend you to consider the tower on the top list during your visit. You know, this is the symbol of Istanbul.

References

  1. https://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/5825/
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galata_Tower
  3. http://www.galatakulesi.com.tr/
  4. http://www.galatakulesi.com.tr/monu/
  5. https://www.iett.istanbul/en
  6. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/xbox360/628358-assassins-creed-revelations/answers/302697-how-do-you-get-the-animus-data-fragment-on-the-galata-tower
  7. https://www.ign.com/wikis/assassins-creed-revelations/Memory_5_-_Galata_Tower
  8. https://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/376329-AC-R-Galata-Tower-Animus-Data-Fragment-Help-Forums
  9. https://assassinscreed.fandom.com/wiki/Galata_Tower
  10. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/628357-assassins-creed-revelations/61158096
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