History of the Galata Tower
Galata Tower Entrance Fee, Working Hours and History
It was a huge surprise for everyone when Roman Emperor Constantine decided to move the capital of Roman Empire to a small city, called as Byzantium. Constantine had two reasons to carry out this fundamental change:
- Moving away from Rome which was under fierce attacks of Barbaric tribes and lost its strategic importance, and locating the imperial throne to a safer place.
- Living on equal distances from two main enemies of the empire – Germanic tribes and Goths on the western side, Persian Empire on the eastern side – and being able to intervene in these two fronts when needed.
Emperor Constantine the Great moved the capital from Rome to Byzantium for this purpose in 324 AD. At first, the city was called as “New Rome”, afterwards, it was called as Constantinople, meaning the city of Constantine. Foundation of Istanbul as a city in a real sense dates back to these years.
Italian Trade Colonies in Istanbul
It was Constantine the Great who first saw that Istanbul would be a trade center in the future. As a matter of fact, Istanbul became the most important industrial port in the word in a couple of centuries. Silk and spices coming from India and China was collected in the ports of Constantinople and was exported to Europe from there. Genoese and Venetians, maritime city-states of Italy, were in charge of these trade routes.
Settling of Venetian and Genoese colonies to Istanbul traces back to Byzantine Empire era. While Istanbul was just a Historical Peninsula at those times, Italian trade colonies were established on the opposite shore – modern Karakoy and Galata- of the Golden Horn. The relationship of Italians who were Catholic and Byzantines who were Orthodox had its ups and downs throughout the history.
As it is shown on the map, Istanbul was only restricted to modern-day Historical Peninsula. At the opposite shore of the Golden Horn was Galata trade colony standing, surrounded with walls. Those ancient walls surrounding Galata were, unfortunately, torn down due to municipal operations in the late Ottoman period.
Sack of Constantinople (1204-1261)
The colonies exporting the wealth of Asia to Europe for centuries came at the parting of the ways because of the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. Enrico Dandolo, Doge of Venice, was leading the Fourth Crusade, aiming to capture Jerusalem but sacked Constantinople, the capital of Orthodoxy, upon arriving there. As a result, Venetian colony in the city cooperated with the capturers.
Catholics founded Latin Empire in Constantinople that lasted 57 years. When the city was retaken in 1261, Byzantine Empire received a huge support from Genoese colonies. In return, they consigned a harbor district, known as Galata today, to them.
Construction of the Galata Tower by the Genoese
The Genoese constructed military bases such as the Galata Tower and Yoros Castle to defend Constantinople. If Byzantine Empire had had its power, it would have been impossible for a foreign country to build a watch tower for military purposes at the heart of the city. Yet, Byzantine Empire was in period of decline and was only a shadow of its former magnificent state.
History of Galata Tower
Fall of Constantinople (1453)
Though previous sultans attempted to conquer the city multiple times, it was Mehmed II who succeeded in taking the city. Capture of the Galata Tower and the district was delayed due to the defense chain that was placed at the mouth of Golden Horn during the siege. Byzantines and Genoese defended the city together against the siege because population was very low in the 15th century in Constantinople and the Empire needed every one of its soldiers to hold the city.
Call for aid to the Western Europe by Byzantine Emperor was in vain. Genoese Republic was one of the few states that came to assist to Byzantine Empire. They sent 700 soldiers at Giovanni Giustiniani’s command.
Giustiniani played a big role in organizing the defense of the city. The fall of the city was delayed because of his strategic genius. After he was injured, he noticed the inevitable ending and left the city. In his absence, there was nothing to prevent the capture from happening, so Ottomon Empire took the city on May 29th. The Galata Tower was handed down to the Sultan on the same day.
Capitulations of Venetians and Genoese
Mehmed II (aka Mehmed the Conqueror) was a very realist and practical ruler. He was unwilling to damage the trade route that had brought precious goods and great deal of money for centuries. For that reason, he let the traditional trade route continue to perform. He granted some capitulations to Venetian and Genoese trade colonies and they continued to act as a tie between Constantinople and Europe. Of course, the Ottoman Empire made money via high taxes.
The Galata Tower Entrance Fee 2019
Galata Tower entrance fee is 35 Turkish Lira as of 2019. Istanbul Museum Pass is invalid. You can visit the Galata Tower to take a picture of unique Istanbul scene and have a good time at the cafe located on its roof.
The Galata Tower Working Hours 2019
The Galata Tower is open to visit every day all year long. There is no change in opening hours in weekend/weekdays. You can visit Galata Tower from 09:00 in the morning until 19:00 in the evening.
The Galata Tower and its neighborhood have a good social mobility. You can pass from the Galata Tower to Galata Mevlevi House Museum through Galip Dede Street. At the side of Mevlevi House, stands Tunnel Square where the entrance of Istiklal Avenue is located.
Also, Serdar-i Ekrem Street which includes great cafes and boutiques recently is very close to the Galata Tower. Through Buyuk Hendek Street next to the Tower, you can visit Sishane and Mesrutiyet Street (Pera District).
Recommended Reading: Emperors and Sultans of Istanbul