If you go to Istanbul for the first time and ask yourself "what to see?", most of the tourist guides will definitely mention the Galata Tower among the main attractions. This structure, which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city, is its main dominant feature. 


  1. History of the Tower
  2. Viewing platform
  3. Restaurant
  4. What to see near
  5. How to find the tower

The Galata Tower, or Galata Tower, as it is also called, is located in the European part of Istanbul. The very name "tower" suggests that it must be something tall. But you have no idea how tall it is. The top of the structure is 61 meters from its base, which is comparable to the height of about a 25-story house. Some sources indicate that the tower is even taller. Add to this data the fact that its diameter is 9 meters, and the total height of the site relative to sea level is 140 meters. It immediately becomes clear why the structure is visible from anywhere in the city. It is logical that it itself becomes an excellent vantage point to view the beauties of Istanbul. 

Tower in the eveningTower in the evening

The building is a historical monument and has the status of a museum, but in view of its popularity among tourists, it has been given a certain amount of modernity. For the convenience of visitors in the tower operates two elevators, because not everyone can overcome the ascent of 60 meters, if only for the sake of the stunning view. There is also a restaurant, coffee house, tavern, and nightclub.

History of the Tower

In order to get to know the landmark more meaningfully, it is necessary to delve a little bit deeper into history. Originally, there was a wooden tower on this site, and according to extant archives, it was in the 6th century. Eight centuries later, the Byzantines lost control of the territory, and the Genoese captured it and began to build their colony here. First they erected the protective walls, and then in 1348 they erected a tower on the very top of the hill. That is what we can see today. But then it had a different name - "Jesus Tower". 

The exhibit on the 4 floor takes us through the history of the tower's foundationThe exhibit on the 4 floor takes us through the history of the tower's foundation

The tower served as a landmark for seafarers and merchants. It received its modern name later, when it came under the control of the Ottomans. Galata was the name of the historic district of Istanbul, where the building was located. But as for what the word means, there are several versions. According to one of them, the word "Galata" comes from the Greek "galaktos" - "milk," and this area was previously the pasture of goats and sheep. The second version says that the origin of the name was the Celtic tribe of Anatolia "Galata". The third theory suggests that the name of the area came from the Italian "calata", which means "slope".

In the museum you can see objects of everyday life of the ancient ByzantinesIn the museum you can see objects of everyday life of the ancient Byzantines

As for the beginning of the Ottoman period of the tower's history, it is recorded on a special sign that can be seen on the structure. The text mentions the date on which the keys of the Galata Colony were handed over to Sultan Fatih Mehmed - May 29, 1453. The new owners of the territory, by order of the sultan, made changes to the appearance of the tower. The height was reduced by 7 meters and the dome was removed. 

For a time the tower housed an observatoryGalata Tower inside

Almost 200 years later, there was an event that added the Galata Tower to world history. A local "Ikar" - Hezarfen Ahmet Chelebi built a structure somewhat similar to modern gliders and jumped off the tower with it. The daring experiment of the Ottoman engineer was successful and he was able to cross the strait by air, covering a total of 3.5 km. It was one of the first flights in the world, so the tower became known as the Tower of Hezarfen, while Sultan Murad, the ruler at the time, rewarded the inventor with gold. But Hezarthan was not destined to be at the height of his fame for long. Under pressure from his entourage, the sultan decided to expel the scientist from the city. He was sent to Algeria, where he died a few years later.

Ahmet Chelebi prepares to jumpAhmet Chelebi prepares to jump

This story is well known to the Turks, although evidence of the flight is recorded in only one source. The author of the historical work was the traveler Evliya Chelebi. According to his records, even before the legendary experiment, Ahmet Çelebi made about 10 attempts to fly over the square.

A prototype of Istanbul can be seen on the 6th floorA prototype of Istanbul can be seen on the 6th floor

Hezarfen's brother, Lagari Hassan-Chelebi, was also successful in terms of inventions. Just a year after his brother's flight, he organized his own - on the first manned rocket. With its help, Hasan climbed to an altitude of 300 meters and then landed, using special wings that acted as a parachute.  The flight lasted 20 seconds and was also marked by Sultan. Hassan's fate was the same as that of his brother. His ruler also sent him into exile - to the northern Black Sea coast (the territory of modern Ukraine).

Visitors are also introduced to the history of TurkeyVisitors are also introduced to the history of Turkey

Toward the end of the 18th century the tower was reconstructed to a height of 45 meters. After about fifty years, an observation deck was added to the building. 

For the most part, visual changes to the tower ceased in 1875. Only in the 60s of the 20th century was the dome rebuilt, which became conical in shape, and in the tower itself there was an elevator. Now the landmark is protected by the state. 

Viewing platform

The Galata Tower rises 140 meters above sea level, so the view from the observation deck is spectacular. The platform itself is located around the entire circumference of the structure, which allows you to explore the area from all sides. You can enjoy the view of the Asian side of the city and the Bosphorus Bay and then cross to the other side to see the Golden Horn Bay with the Ataturk Bridge and the Galata Bridge over it. Both structures are amazing in terms of architecture. From the observation deck you can even see the buildings of the old city on the other side of the bay. Naturally, all these views should not only be captured in memory, but recorded on photos and videos. This is the best place to take panoramic photos of Istanbul. 

View from the observation deckView from the observation deck

You can get here from 09:00 to 17:00 in winter and from 09:00 to 19:00 in summer. Please note that these are only opening hours of the observation deck. The other facilities of Galata Tower have a different schedule: the restaurant is open from 9:00 to midnight and the night club starts working after midnight. 

With binoculars you can see the streets of Istanbul in detailWith binoculars you can see the streets of Istanbul in detail

Experienced tourists to visit the observation deck recommend choosing a time closer to its closing time. The main flow of visitors already subsides, and you will not have to stand in long lines. You can admire the views of Istanbul and feel its atmosphere. The entrance to the observation deck for children under 5 years old is free. The adult ticket besides entrance to the platform itself includes an elevator and a visit to the local museum with a souvenir store. Back down the ornate staircase, you will explore each floor of the tower with its exhibits.

Gift store on the 2nd floor of the towerGift store on the 2nd floor of the tower


If you want to see Istanbul at night from above, you can go to the Galata Tower Restaurant. The observation deck is closed late at night, but the canteen is open until midnight. It is situated a little bit lower, so it too has a good view. It compensates for some shortcomings of the cuisine of this restaurant, which is also quite expensive. But tourists do not come here mainly for the food. Usually they order a couple of drinks and dessert. We recommend this option to you.

Galata Tower View RestaurantGalata Tower View Restaurant

What to see near

Naturally, you will explore Istanbul not only from the top of the observation deck. Even near the Galata Tower itself, there are many sites worth seeing. Among them: the Church of St. Peter and Paul, with its bright blue dome covered with stars, the museum, which in addition to exhibits also has a cinema and a library. Not far from the tower is the Galata Bridge. There are also the piers from which the sightseeing transport on the Bosphorus leaves. 

The old streets near the towerThe old streets near the tower

How to find the tower

By the way, as for transportation. Naturally, tourists have a question about how to get to the tower itself, especially if this is the first time in Istanbul. On maps, the landmark is marked as Galata Kulesi or Galata Tower, depending on which language is used: Turkish or English. This is the point you will need to look for. Don't forget that you can see the tower from almost anywhere in the city, so if you go on a walking tour through the center of Istanbul, you will easily find your way around without the help of a map. You will simply walk in the direction of the tower, towering above the other buildings of the city.


The closest metro station to the Galata Tower is Shishan (Şişhane). From there it takes about 5 minutes on foot to reach the landmark.  

On the streetcar

It will take about the same distance from the nearest streetcar stop. But in this case you have to go uphill, take this into account. The stop itself is located near the Galata Bridge and is called Karaköy. You can take the T1 express streetcar to get there.

On the ferry

The same name is also given to the ferry station, which can be reached from the Asian part of the city. When you get to the station, it takes about 15 minutes to walk to the tower. As with the streetcar, this road will be uphill. 


If of all modes of public transport you are closest to a cab, it is not difficult to find a car. The cars of the official carriers are yellow, and the payment is based solely on the meter. There are always cabs around train stations, subway stations and tourist attractions.  Just take into account the fact that Istanbul is a megalopolis, and therefore there may be traffic jams on the roads. You can use the BiTaksi app to call a cab.

Now, having received a detailed briefing on how to get to the Galata Tower, what it is notable for, and a brief introduction to its history, all that remains is to go to Istanbul to see this unique structure in person. Millions of tourists have already appreciated the beauty of the attraction and the stunning view around it. Now it's your turn.

See also: