Galata Tower known as the Tower of Christ by the Genoese or Megalos Pyrgos by the Byzantines

The Galata Tower which is located in the Karaköy district of Istanbul, Turkey, is called as "Galata Kulesi" in Turkish. The medieval stone tower is just at the north of the Golden Horn's junction to the Bosphorus. The cylinder formed tower is dominating over the old city and from the top the most important parts of Istanbul can be seen as like as from a eagles eye.

History of the Galata Tower

Although it’s not exactly known when the Galata Tower was contructed, it is commonly agreed by historians and what can be obtained from the historical documents that the tower was built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian around 507 CE.

The tower became its current shape during the period of Genoese period when the Galata, current Kadıköy district, neighborhood was inhabited by the colonies of the Republic of Genoa. The quarter where the Genoese hosted served as an economic and trade posts in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Galata Kulesi, was not the only name which was used for the construction, "Christea Turris," or the Tower of Christ, by the Genoese, while the Byzantines called it as the "Megalos Pyrgos," or the Great Tower.

During the reign of Ottoman Empire "Sultan Süleyman" (the Magnificent), the tower had a very different use, as it was the place for the prisoners who were condemned to work at the Kasımpasa Naval Dockyard.

The tower got high damages on an earthquake occured in 1509 during the Ottoman Empire time. Beyazid II let the famous Ottoman architect, Hayreddin, restore the tower.

  • An observatory was added at the end of the 16th century by the astrologer Takiyüddin Efendi, but the tower was destined to become a prison once more during the reign of Sultan Murat III between 1546-1595.

  • In 1717 it was used as a fire observatory tower because of its excellent view over the city.

  • Fires occurred in 1794 and 1831 destroyed the tower but was each time restored.

The Flying Attempt from the Tower

One of the most known stories about the tower is about the legendary Ottoman aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi. According to an account written by Evliya Çelebi, an explorer who recorded his observations in a famous Seyahâtnâme (travelogue), Hezârfen Çelebi flew from the top of the tower to Dogancılar Square in Üsküdar to the other side of the Bosphorus with wings constructed by himself and attached to his arms. Due to this spectacular attemption and rumors which grow very fast within the city, Sultan Murad Khan decide to sent him to exile in Algeria.

Current facilities of the Galata Tower

The tower which is 66.90 meters (129 ft) high serves as a touristic attraction/monument, it has a spectacular 360-degree view of Istanbul from the balcony. At the top there is also a restaurant where you can enjoy the traditional Turkish cuisine. Sunset is remarkable to see at the top of the tower.

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