Standing for over 650 years, this imposing cylindrical lookout point continues to offer special views over the city of Istanbul.
At just under 67 metres in height, Galata Tower was the tallest building in the city when built in 1348. It was constructed as the heart of the fortifications of the Genovese colony in Constantinople at that time, and was named the 'Tower of Christ'. Later, it became a lookout tower for fires in the 18th century, and was indeed seriously damaged by fire in both the 18th and 19th centuries. The most recent significant refurbishment took place during the 1960s, and the tower has been open to visitors since then.
Standing overlooking the Old City of Istanbul, Galata Tower commands excellent views from the outdoor panorama balcony. Many of the landmarks of Istanbul are laid out before you – the Bosphorus Strait divides the city, as it divides Europe from Asia. The strait is crossed by the Galata Bridge, which connects the two continents.
Soak up the view as you listen to the atmospheric call of the imams, summoning the faithful to prayer. Many of the other sights are on view here, from Topkapi Palace to the Hagia Sophia to the Blue Mosque.
The Golden Horn is a famous natural harbour in the strait – if you are in Galata Tower as the sun goes down at the end of the day, you'll get to see where this name comes from. There is both a restaurant and a café in the tower if you're feeling hungry, and also a nightclub on the top floor where Harem-style entertainment is mixed with traditional local dancing in a colourful and fascinating show of movement during the regular Turkish night shows.
Galata Tower is found in Beyoglu or 'New Town', north of the Golden Horn. There is a lift to the seventh floor, but you'll have to take the stairs for the last two flights to the viewing platform. It is recommended to book the restaurant before your visit, as it's very popular. The tower can be reached by public transport, and is open daily, with longer opening hours in the summertime. There is an entry fee, but it's half price on Monday.