Galata Tower is one of the most visited museums in Istanbul. Built in the late Byzantine period, the tower offers 360 degrees of Istanbul view. You can find information about Galata Tower entrance fee and opening hours in this article. In addition, the history of the Galata Tower is also briefly noted. At the end of the article, there are also useful suggestions about things to do around Galata Tower.
History of the Galata Tower
In order to tell the history of Galata Tower properly, we will have to rewind a little and touch on the history of Istanbul. Istanbul was once the eastern capital of the Roman Empire as Constantinople.
1. Foundation of Constantinople
It was a huge surprise for everyone when 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 on the western side and Persians 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.
After the foundation of Constantinople, Roman emperors began to live in the east. Emperor Constantine and the emperors who followed him positioned the center of Rome in the Eastern Mediterranean, a promising commercial center.
2. Italian Trade Colonies
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 trade port in the world in a couple of centuries. Silk and spices from Asia were collected in the port of Constantinople and distributed to Europe from there. Venetians and Genoese were at the head of this commercial system.
Settling of Venetian and Genoese colonies to Istanbul traces back to Byzantine Empire era. When Constantinople was just today’s Historic Peninsula (Old City of Istanbul), Italian trade colonies were established on the opposite shore of the Golden Horn (Galata). 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.
3. Sack of Constantinople
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 invaders.
Catholics founded Latin Empire in Constantinople that lasted 57 years. (1204-1261) When the city was recaptured in 1261, Byzantines received a huge support from Genoese colonies. In return, they consigned a harbor district, known as Karakoy and Galata today, to them.
4. Construction of the Tower by the Genoese
The Genoese constructed military bases such as the Galata Tower and Yoros Castle to defend Constantinople. If the Byzantine Empire had its past power, it would not be possible to build such a military monument in the heart of the city for foreigners. Yet, Byzantine Empire was in period of decline and was only a shadow of its former magnificent state.
5. Fall of Constantinople
Though previous Ottoman rulers 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 the only state that came to assist the Byzantine Empire. They sent 700 soldiers under 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 fall of Constantinople from happening, so the Ottomans conquered the city on May 29th, 1453. The Galata Tower was handed down to the Sultan Mehmed II on the same day.
6. Commercial Privileges to Trading Colonies
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.
Sultan granted some commercial privileges to Venetian and Genoese trading colonies and they continued to act as a tie between Constantinople and Europe. Of course, the Ottoman Empire made money via high taxes.
Galata Tower Entrance Fee 2021
Galata Tower entrance fee is 35 Turkish Lira as of 2021. 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.
Galata Tower Opening Hours 2021
Galata Tower opening hours are between 09:00 in the morning and 19:00 in the evening. Galata Tower is open to visitors every day throughout the year.
Things to Do around Galata Tower
You can see hundreds of people around Galata Tower during the day. The square under the tower is called Kuledibi in the local language. There are many cafes, restaurants and shopping streets around. We can summarize the things to do around Galata Tower in a few titles.
1. Galata Mevlevi House Museum
Galata Mevlevi House Museum was the spiritual center of whirling dervishes. Whirling Dervish Show, one of the most beautiful theatrical performances in Istanbul, is also performed here.
Galata Mevlevi House Museum is a museum affiliated to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and if you have an Istanbul Museum Pass, you can enter here for free.
2. Istiklal Street
After visiting the Mevlevi Museum, you can go to Tunnel Square with just a few minutes’ walk. Tunnel Square is the beginning of Istiklal Street, which stretches for 1.5 kilometers.
Istiklal Street is the most enjoyable walking street in Istanbul. It starts with Tunnel Square and continues until Taksim Square. You can see restaurants, cafes and shopping places along the street.
3. Serdar-i Ekrem Street
Serdar-i Ekrem Street is a shopping street whose popularity has increased in recent years. You can find shops selling specially designed items on this street. There are also stylish boutique hotels and cafes.
4. Nardis Jazz Club
Nardis Jazz Club is also among the things to do around Galata Tower. You can also visit Nardis Jazz Club, one of Istanbul’s most popular activity centers. Nardis hosts the best Jazz artists in Istanbul.
Galata Tower and its surroundings offer good opportunities for those who like to take pictures. Some buildings painted by street artists can be the background image for your Instagram photos.
Galata Tower Entrance Fee & Hours 2020 and 2021