Galata Tower - History and Facts | History Hit

Galata Tower

Bereketzade, Marmara Region, Turkey

Galata Tower is a medieval turreted tower first built by the Genoese in 1348.

Peta Stamper

08 Jun 2021

About Galata Tower

Galata Tower, known as the ‘Tower of Christ’ in Latin, is a medieval turreted tower in Turkey built by the Genoese as a defensive structure in 1348 and since rebuilt several times. One such occasion was following an earthquake in 1509 which caused great damage to Galata Tower.

Today, the high, cone-topped rounded tower continues to dominate the skyline and for those willing to climb to the top, offers a stunning panoramic view of historic Istanbul and the Bosphorus.

Galata Tower history

Built in 1348 during the expansion of the Genoese colony in Constantinople, Galata Tower was the tallest building in the city when it was built. Reaching 66.9 metres high, the upper section of the tower was a cone-shape, modified several times under the Ottomans when it was used for spotting fires.

Over the centuries, Galata Tower has been used for several purposes. For example, in the 16th century it is said the tower acted as a jail under Suleiman the Magnificent as well as an astrology observatory. There is also a story in which an aviator by the name of Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi took off from the tower using artificial wings in 1638.

In 1794, Galata Tower was devastated by a fire, its lead and wood roof flammable. This was somewhat ironic given that it was serving as a fire watchtower at the time. The tower was further damaged in 1831 by fire, and in 1875 a storm ripped off the cone. The cone was only reconstructed during the 1960s when the tower was opened to the public.

Galata Tower today

Today, the main attraction inside the tower is a restaurant, although people also go to the top for the views. From the top, you can see the Golden Horn, the Bosphorus and the point where Asia meets Europe, highlighting why Istanbul remained such a significant trading point for so long.

Getting to Galata Tower

Located in the heart of Beyoglu, one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist districts, the tower is easily reached on foot from other historic sites such as Taksim Square and Karakoy. You could get the tram from Sultanahamet to Kabatas and walk 10 minutes to Galata Tower.