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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.
Make the most of your time at Galata Tower. Here's a list of some of the best things to do:
Take a look at our Istanbul things to do page to learn about many more activities while you're here.
Located in Istanbul City Center, this luxury hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Galata Tower, Istanbul Modern Art Museum and Spice Bazaar. Suleymaniye Mosque is 1.3 mi (2.1 km) away. Tophane Station is 5 minutes by foot and Karakoy Station is 7 minutes.
This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located on the boardwalk, within a 15-minute walk of Galata Tower and Mixer. Taksim Square and Suleymaniye Mosque are also within 2 mi (3 km). Tunel Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Tophane Station is 10 minutes.
Located in Taksim, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Pera Museum, Istiklal Avenue and Galata Tower. Istanbul Cruise Ship Terminal is 0.8 mi (1.2 km) away. Tunel Square Station is 6 minutes by foot and Tophane Station is 10 minutes.
Located in Taksim, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Sanatorium Gallery and Tunel Square. Galata Tower and Suleymaniye Mosque are also within 2 mi (3 km). Tunel Square Station is only a 4-minute walk and Tophane Station is 12 minutes.
Located in Taksim, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Macka Park, Ataturk Cultural Center and Acibadem Taksim Hospital. Taksim Square and Istanbul Modern Art Museum are also within 2 mi (3 km). Taşkışla Cable Car Station is only a 4-minute walk and Maçka Cable Car Station is 9 minutes.
Located in Sultanahmet, this spa hotel is steps away from Cemberlitas Bath and Column of Constantine. Sultanahmet Square and Hagia Sophia are also within 10 minutes. Cemberlitas Station and Sultanahmet Station are within a 5-minute walk.
Located in Istanbul City Center, this hotel is within 1 mi (2 km) of Mixer, Spice Bazaar and Suleymaniye Mosque. Grand Bazaar and Basilica Cistern are also within 2 mi (3 km). Karakoy Station is 6 minutes by foot and Tunel Square Station is 6 minutes.
This family-friendly Istanbul hotel is located in the entertainment district, within 1 mi (2 km) of Acibadem Taksim Hospital, Taksim Square and Dolmabahce Palace. Istanbul Cevahir Shopping and Entertainment Centre and Galata Tower are also within 2 miles (3 km). Taşkışla Cable Car Station is 14 minutes by foot and Taksim Station is 16 minutes.