Friday, 14 August 2009

Galata Tower - Istanbul

The Galata Tower is one of Istanbul’s most famous landmarks, it dominates the landscape around Beyoğlu and the 10 Turkish lira entrance fee is well worth it as it offers breathtaking panoramic views of Istanbul. The Galata Tower is a nine storey building that is 66.9 meters tall and has walls that are 3.75 meters thick; there are two elevators that run to the top floor which contains a rather pricey restaurant. Once at the top you have to spend some time on the observation deck that runs around the tower. For the more adventurous it’s well worth walking back down the narrow stone stairs which snake their way around the building and offer some interesting peephole views both inside of and outside of the tower.

History

The Galata Tower was built by the Genoese in 1348 when this part of Istanbul was still a Genoese trading colony.
Originally it was called The Tower of Christ (Christea Turris) and was part of the fortifications protecting the Genoese citadel. The tower has had many uses over the years including being used as a prison, observatory, fire lookout and the launch point for the 17th century birdman Hezârfen Ahmed Çelebi who apparently achieved the first inter-continental flight (1630-1632) by jumping from the top of the tower wearing some artificial wings and gliding from the European side to the Asian side. Ironically in 1835 when the tower was being used as a fire lookout the Tower itself caught fire. The Tower was not completely restored until the 1960’s when it was commercialised and opened as a tourist attraction.

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