Looking at the maps of Constantinople, one can see that the territory of the modern metropolis was once limited to only two areas, divided by the Golden Horn. In the northern part of the city, a tall structure was invariably depicted, sometimes referred to as the 'Tower of Christ.' Today, this building is known to us as the Galata Tower - one of the recognizable symbols of the city.
How to get there by metro
The tower is located on a high hill in the European part of the city. It's convenient to get here by metro; there are several exits from the Şişhane metro station nearby. If you're heading to the Galata Tower from the other side of the Golden Horn or from the Karaköy pier, you can shorten the way by taking the Tunel funicular.
I first visited the Galata Tower in the spring of 2018. Since then, there have been some changes: for example, while previously there was only an observation deck here, now there's an exhibition with interactive elements inside the walls of the building. Changes have also affected the cost of visiting the tower: in five years, it has increased from 25 to 350 Turkish lira.
Istanbul's museums often close relatively early, but the Galata Tower is open until 11 PM in the summer and until 10 PM in the winter.
A bit of history
It is believed that the name 'Galata Tower' comes from the Greek word 'gala,' which translates to 'milk' - a reference to the milk market that once existed here. As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, another old name for this attraction is the 'Tower of Christ.'
The first tower on this site was built during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the first half of the 6th century. In ancient times, there was a mechanism inside the building to stretch a huge chain that blocked the passage of enemy ships through the Golden Horn.
The tower we see here today was built in 1348-1349. The structure was rebuilt several times afterwards. For example, the cone-shaped roof appeared here after the 1830s. At different times, the Galata Tower was used as a prison, a lighthouse, a fire lookout, and an observatory. There was once an orchestra here that announced the arrival of midnight to the city's residents. The height of the modern structure is 61 meters.
The observation deck is located at the very top of the tower, under its famous dome. Tourists reach it by elevator, and on the way back, they must descend on small stairs. Along the way, guests can see an exhibition that tells the history of this ancient building.
On one of the floors, there's a large screen, and visitors can stand in front of it and control the flight of a person named Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi. It is believed that several centuries ago, this inventor flew from the tower across the Bosphorus on wooden wings.
After exploring the historical monuments of Istanbul, you can embark on a journey to the modern places of the city. To do this, head to Galataport - a popular public space with restaurants, shops, and a promenade on the shores of the Bosphorus. By the way, a new exhibition building of the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art has recently opened there.
Have a nice trip!