In this post, you’ll discover the ultimate list of facts about the Galata Tower.
1. It’s located at a famous junction of waterways
The Galata Tower is a tower located in the Galata district, now often referred to as “Karaköy,” in Istanbul, the capital of Turkey. This district is located on the European side of the city.
The tower is situated just north of where the Golden Horn, a famous urban waterway in Istanbul, drains into the Bosphorus, the strait that forms the natural boundary between Europe and Asia.
The tower is one of the most prominent landmarks in this part of the city.
2. The tower was built in the 14th century
One of the most interesting facts about the Galata Tower is that the district it’s situated in was a colony of the Republic of Genoa between 1273 and the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453, an empire also referred to as the East Roman Empire.
It’s the Republic of Genoa, a maritime republic from the northwestern coast of Italy, that built the tower in the year 1348 during a time that their colony in Constantinople expanded.
3. It was built to replace a much older tower that was destroyed
There used to be another tower within the Citadel of Galata which was completely destroyed in the year 1204 during the Sack of Constantinople, which was part of the 4th Crusade.
The Golden Horn, the main inlet of the Bosphorus, was completely walled back then to prevent enemy ships from entering the harbor.
This old Tower of Galata, which was referred to as the “Great Tower,” wasn’t in the same location as the current tower built by the Genoese.
4. It originally had another name
The Galata Tower was built in the Romanesque style and was originally referred to as the “Christea Turris” by the Genoese who built it in 1348. This translates to the “Tower of Christ.”
This name was promptly changed after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453 and was replaced with the Ottoman Empire, which ruled from 1453 until 1923.
5. It was the tallest building in the city upon completion
The tower consists of 9 stories and stands 66.90 meters (219.5 feet) above the ground, with the tower’s base being situated 61 meters (200 feet) above sea level.
One of the most amazing facts about the Galata Tower is that it was the tallest building in the city upon completion and must have been a fascinating sight for ships entering the harbor in the 14th century!
The city landscape surely changed a bit over the centuries, don’t you think?
6. It was built with extremely thick walls
The tower is extremely robust and has a diameter of 16.45 meters (54.0 feet) at the base and a diameter of 8.95 meters (29.4 feet) on the inside.
The walls were built to make it impossible to penetrate the tower because they are 3.75 meters (12.3 feet) thick!
7. An intercontinental aviator flew from the tower in the 17th century
One of the most remarkable facts about the Galata Tower is that it was probably the sight of the earliest intercontinental flights in history. According to Ottoman historian and traveler Evliya Çelebi, a man named Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew with self-made wings from the top of the tower to the other end of the Bosphorus around 1630-1632.
By doing so, he didn’t just cover a distance of about 6 kilometers (4 miles), but also successfully flew from Europe to Asia!
The historian documented the man’s achievement as follows:
First, he practiced by flying over the pulpit of Okmeydanı eight or nine times with eagle wings, using the force of the wind. Then, as Sultan Murad Khan (Murad IV) was watching from the Sinan Pasha mansion at Sarayburnu, he flew from the very top of the Galata Tower (in contemporary Karaköy) and landed in the Doğancılar Square in Üsküdar, with the help of the south-west wind. Then Murad Khan granted him a sack of golden coins and said: “This is a scary man. He is capable of doing anything he wishes. It is not right to keep such people,” and thus sent him to Algeria on exile. He died there.Story about the first flying man in history.
A Turkish movie as made in 1996 related to this story called “Istanbul Beneath My Wings.”
8. The tower lost its roof for nearly a century
By the year 1717, the tower was mostly used as a lookout to spot fires within the city. What they didn’t realize as that the tower, of which the roof was made of lead and wood, was prone to catching fire itself.
The inevitable happened as fires broke out in the years 1794 and 1831, and both times, the tower was restored to its original shape.
When the tower lost its roof in the year 1875 during a severe storm, nothing was done for nearly a century! It wasn’t until a serious renovation between 1965 and 1967 that the iconic roof of the tower was restored.
9. The tower is used for entertainment in modern times
As the tower served multiple purposes during the Middle Ages and during the Ottoman Empire, purposes mostly related to defending the city from pirates and invaders, the tower is used for something quite different today.
At the top of the tower, there’s a restaurant as well as a nightclub which is the venue for a Turkish show. Customers are able to move to the upper levels of the towers using an elevator.
As a prominent landmark in the city, the tower also looks amazing at night!
10. The observation deck on top of the tower provides stunning views
The top floor of the tower is located at a height of 52 meters (171 feet) above the ground and here you can find the tower’s observation deck.
This is probably one of the best places in all of Istanbul to get a stunning view of the city and its surroundings!