Look no further than Galata Tower for a beautiful 360-degree view of Istanbul
Galata Tower (Galata Kulesi) is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Istanbul and should be high on your list of things to do when you first visit the city. From the top of the tower you will experience a beautiful 360-degree view of Istanbul’s incredible skyline which has been shaped over centuries throughout the cites Byzantium, Constantine and Ottoman eras.
As you approach Galata Tower for the first time the sheer dominance of the surrounding area makes it impossible for you to look anywhere else other than directly at its magnificent stone structure. For a standard fee of 15tl you can go up to it’s viewing balcony where you will see some of Istanbul’s most historic and prominent landmarks. The tower is situated in the Galata region which is full of shops that are worth checking out for some of your souvenir shopping. From the tower you can walk straight on to the southern end of one of Istanbul’s most famous streets, Istiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) where you will find the nostalgic tram and many popular shops and restaurants. After dark you will often see people sitting around Galata Tower as the area transforms into a place where friends gather and all try to get that perfect photo of them with the tower behind them.
If you decide to purchase a ticket to go up the tower (and we strongly recommend that you do), there is a lift which goes up several floors followed by a winding staircase that takes you onto the viewing balcony. After you’ve stepped onto the balcony you can then start to appreciate the breathtaking view of Istanbul. From here you will see the seven hills of the city with the Golden Horn on one side and the Bosphorus on the other. In the distance you’ll notice Istanbul’s historic mosques such as the Aya Sophia, Sultan Ahmet and the Süleymaniye Mosque as well as other sites including the magnificent Topkapı Palace and the Bosphorus Bridge.
- Galata Tower is 66.90m tall or 62.59m without the ornament on top.
- The observation balcony is 51.65m high.
- The external diameter of the tower is 16.45m at its base and 8.95m diameters inside.
- The walls are 3.75m thick.
- Currently Galata Tower is a tourist attraction but under past sultans it was used as a prison and also as a watchtower to spot outbreaks of fire across the city.
- Visit Galata Tower on a clear sunny day so you can take advantage of the view and capture breathtaking photos of the cityscape. Try to avoid going on a windy day as the wind is very strong when you’re that high up.
- The queues for Galata Tower tend to grow fast so its best to visit the tower early to enjoy walking around the balcony without it being to busy.
- Or visit the tower just before closing time to watch the sunset from the balcony. Many people will have the same idea so it will be quite busy at this time, but it will be a sight that you’ll never forget.
How to get there
Galata tower is in the Galata/Karaköy region of Istanbul, which is a quarter within the borough of Beyoğlu. In the southern end of Istiklal Caddesi near the famous Tünel underground railway there is a path left of the station that leads you straight down a hill towards the tower. You can also access the tower from Karaköy where there are several paths that all lead up to the tower, including one path with steps.
Galata Tower’s opening hours between 9.00am and 8.00pm.
Galata Tower’s entrance fee is 15tl
Turkish Citizens can enter the tower at a reduced rate when an ID card is presented.
Galata Tower was built in 1348 and was named Christea Turris, which means ‘The Tower of Christ’ in Latin. Sultan Mehmet II was handed the key to the tower from the Genose colony in Constantinople after it was conquered by the Ottomans in 1453. The tower was then renamed to Galata Tower.
In 1638 it is said that an Ottoman aviator by the name of Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew using artificial wings from Galata Tower on the European side, across the Bosphorus and successfully landed in Üsküdar on the Anatolian side. Unfortunately shortly after he was exiled to Algeria by Sultan Murad IV who received pressure from palace advisors and religious heads over the successful flight. Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi’s story is still told to this day and in remembrance he has an airfield in Istanbul named after him.