Galata Tower- The symbol of Istanbul (After Restoration)

Galata Tower- The symbol of Istanbul (After Restoration)

Galata Tower

Galata Tower- Info about recent Restoration

Alright, it is time to update this masterpiece 🙂 When we published the first post in August 2019 about Galata Tower, we were not sure how quickly the tower will be restored. But, as of now, we have a new brand tower and we can say that at least the inside of the tower is now fully different.

You will easily capture the changes. The titles specifically include two words “After Restoration”. And, we directly deleted some of the info when we felt that they may create confusion. Basically, there are major updates and we are also excited to share with you.

You may be curious why the tower was restored. During the mayor elections last year and the tough period right after the 1st one (there were two elections for Istanbul), it was decided to move the management from Istanbul Municipality to the government (the Ministry of Culture and Tourism). Of course, after these big decisions, you know the changes always take place.

General 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].

So, let’s go deeper!! 🙂

Galata Tower- Description (After Restoration)

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 eight 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 in 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 to a public location, and the previous restoration was completed in 1967. The final restoration which took almost three months have just been completed in October 2020.

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- 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 at night.

Galata Tower- Things to do (After Restoration)

Inside the tower, you can go to the top and enjoy the view. The restaurant, cafe, and 4d fly ride are no longer in the tower. Moreover, some of the floors are active which is a good improvement.

Floors

Currently, there are 8 floors for different purposes. We will start with the deck. Because we always choose to use the elevator first and then going down by stairs 🙂

The 8th floor or last floor is the observation deck and the cafe is no longer there. So, more space, but like we mentioned before, the deck is always crowded.

On the 7th floor, they put a big Istanbul model. And, you can use the buttons to turn on the lights. We really like this model, you can see the dynamic ships. But, one con is the electronic things like these dynamic locations tend to not work after a while. Hope it will be OK. However, we like the idea.

Istanbul model in Galata
Istanbul model in the Galata Tower

The 6th floor is the transition area which is the elevator final stage. And, you will see the medieval boat model. This is the model of the Yenikapi 12 shipwreck which was revealed a while ago.

The 5th floor is dedicated to Istanbul and Galata. You will see a couple of items from Roman, Eastern Roman, or Europen back in the old centuries.

historical items from Roman Empire
Historical Artifacts

The 4th floor is about Galata and the Genoese period. There is a plate with Royal Seal in Latin inscription and many amphoras here. But, the star of this floor is the Halic Chain. This chain was the protector of the Golden Horn. The same chain was the reason for the ships which had been moved over land during the conquest of Constantinople.

Halic chain in Galata
Golden Horn (Halic) chain in the tower

The 3rd floor is an independent exhibition area and the 2nd floor is the simulation floor.

1st floor is the museum store, so you will be finding good pieces here.

What to do near Galata Tower? (After Restoration)

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 souvenir shops that you can buy good pieces.

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 to visit Istanbul post. And as we mentioned, spring and fall are the best seasons to visit Istanbul.

How to climb to the Galata Tower? (After Restoration)

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 6th floor and there are a number of stairs to the 8th 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 always 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.

Galata Tower- Cafe (After Restoration)

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 Turkish coffee is very delicious.

Tower’s cafe is no longer there.

Ceneviz cafe close to the tower
Ceneviz Cafe

Galata Tower- Working hours

Galata Tower is open every day. Regardless of the day, the visiting hours start at 9:00 a.m. But as you know, the management has always right to change it and, please also be careful about national holidays.

Galata Tower- Entrance fee (After Restoration)

It is time to re-shape this section, totally. There is a major change. Finally and from now on, the museum pass for non-Turkish and museum card is available for Turkish people.

If you don’t want to take the pass, the admission fee/ticket price is 30 TL.

Galata Tower- Skip the line (After Restoration)

Yes, the line can be challenging. We waited around half an hour to get into the tower during our last visit.

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. You may try this, but we do not recommend it.

Before the restoration, you could make a reservation for the restaurant, but it looks like there is no way to skip the line after the restoration since there is no more restaurant in the tower.

Galata Tower- Restaurant (After Restoration)

There is no restaurant any more.

Projection-Mapping

The Galata Tower is also famous for light and sound shows. 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.

And, after restoration, there was a good show during the opening.

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

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 within 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 through 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 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 of walking. So, we definitely recommend you 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 Spice Bazaar and 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 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

The 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 [3].

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 the Galata section of Revelations.[4,5,6,7,8]

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.

It is still questionable how the restoration is, time will show the answer. But, it looks like the changes are reasonable at this point.

We recommend you 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. https://www.iett.istanbul/en
  4. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/xbox360/628358-assassins-creed-revelations/answers/302697-how-do-you-get-the-animus-data-fragment-on-the-galata-tower
  5. https://www.ign.com/wikis/assassins-creed-revelations/Memory_5_-_Galata_Tower
  6. https://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/376329-AC-R-Galata-Tower-Animus-Data-Fragment-Help-Forums
  7. https://assassinscreed.fandom.com/wiki/Galata_Tower
  8. https://gamefaqs.gamespot.com/boards/628357-assassins-creed-revelations/61158096

Note: This post was first published in August 2019. And, it was recently updated in October 2020 for the purpose of capturing the post-restoration condition of the Galata Tower.

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