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Eminonu from Galata Tower
Cityscape of Istanbul, Turkey.

Galata Tour & Galata Tower: Spend A Day in Galata

You should share a day for the Galata Tour where is the home of Galata Tower and a couple of other historical places. Galata District, the unique neighborhood of Istanbul was once a walled medieval city where belongs to the Genoese and Venetian colonies and of course to the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Istanbul. If you are planning to come to Istanbul or already in there you should share a day for Galata Tour to Galata Tower and other unique local spots here.

Galata District & Galata Tower History

Galata is one of the oldest settlements in Istanbul. This historical neighborhood located very north of the Golden Horn (Haliç) and lay down to the Taksim Square. Until the 19th century, this district was surrounded by the wall constructed by the Genoese. These walls started at the Azapkapi where is very close to the Golden Horn. Most of the walls demolished by the renovation order of the Galata district in 1864. Even today, you can see some of the walls around. Galata had different names in the historical period. Its original name was Sykai (fig field), given by the Byzantine. In Greek, Galata also called Peran en Sykais, which means fig field on the other side. Levantines named it Pera, Galaktos, Calata and a couple of different but similar names.

Azapkapi Galata Walls
You can see the historical Galata wall under the Golden Horna metro bridge (Source).

Galata was founded as a Latin and Catholic colony very close to the ancient Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire. During years, the government of this unique colony changes various times between Venetians and Genoese. But Galata always remains Latin and Catholic. Even after the conquest of Istanbul, this stayed the same. Sultan Mehmed the Conquer ordered this area to be a place for the Jews, Greeks, and non-muslims.

Galata from Eminonu
Galata from Eminonu around at the end of the 18th century (Source).

Byzantine-Ottoman-Galata Relationships in History

In history, Galata sided multiple times with the enemy of the Byzantines and Ottomans. During the Latin Crusades in 1204, Galata helped them during their occupation over the city. But at the time of the conquest of Istanbul, Galata helped the Byzantines against the Ottoman Empire. With the increasing pressure of the Ottomans, they both allowed and helped them to carry their ship through the land into the Golden Horne which was a quite dramatic moment for the Byzantine. Galata was also the center of the capitulations which may cause the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Ottoman Empire had a very big debt to the Galata’s bankers since the beginning of the 19th century. Those bankers were Greeks who supported the independence of Greece from Ottoman rule.

Galata Tower in a century
Galata Tower in a century, 1900, 1925 and 2012 (Source).

Renovation of Galata District

Around 1860, Galata became a very active business and commercial center of Istanbul. There were also taverns where was very active during the night. A small area within the Genoese wall wasn’t enough for the Galata. Because of that limitation, most of the wall was destroyed and Galata enlarged by the Ottoman Empire. Grand Rue de Pera or Istıklal Street were first constructed at that time around 1864. Galata is always a cosmopolis place. Since the Ottoman era, Galata attracts people from every religion and nation, today it still continues.

 Streets of Galata
Don’t forget to visit the Galata’s vintage shops (Source).

How to Go to The Galata Tower?

Galata Tower is the center of your Galata Tour. So, you should go there first to start your day at Galata. There are no buses on the narrow streets of Galata. If you are staying Taksim, Karaköy or Eminönü you can just take a short walk to stretch your legs to reach the Galata Tower. If you want to use buses to go to the Galata Tower you should get buses on the Refik Saydam Avenue or Tersane Avenue where is very close to the Galata Tower. But my suggestion is taking the metro, historical Taksim tram or tunnel. I wrote down your options;

  • Use the M2 metro line and get off at the Şişhane station
  • Take the historical Taksim tram and get off at last stop, Beyoğlu
  • Use the Tunnel from Karaköy (2nd oldest metro in the world)
second metro of the world tunnel
The tunnel is the 2nd oldest metro in the world after London (Source).

Top 3 Places to See in Galata Tour

Galata Tower

This historical tower is one of the oldest and highest buildings in Istanbul. It is 63 meters high with spherical structure and offers a spectacular panoramic view through the historical peninsula and the Istanbul. Galata Tower used as a defensive structure of the colony, also named as a Tower of Christ. After the conquest of Istanbul, Galata Tower used to detect the fire around the city by the Ottomans. Galata Tower is also the place where was the Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi was the first flying Turk. Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi flew from Galata Tower to Uskudar in the 17th century. This flight was 6 km long which incredible at that time.

Galata Tower from the street level
You probably wait for a long queue to enter the Galata Tower (Source).

Galata Tower renovated and opened to public access in 1967. There is a cafeteria on the top. You have to take the elevator to reach the top floor. Even after you take the elevator there still some stairs to climb. You can enjoy the panoramic view from the balcony at the top. There is also a small gift shop at the exit level of the Galata Tower.

Galata Tower Hours and Entrance Fee

Galata Tower is open for visitation between 09.00 to 19.00 every day. So, it may be better to visit Galata Tower weekdays to avoid the excessive crowd during the weekend. The entrance fee of the Galata Tower is 25 Turkish Lira but there will be different prices for tourists and Turkish citizens. Unfortunately, it is not possible to buy tickets online to avoid the queues. But of course, there are some agencies that are selling Galata Tower tickets in advance.

Neve Shalom Synagogue (Neve Şalom Sinagogu)

Center of the Istanbul’s Jewish community is the Neve Shalom Synagogue. On 25 March 1951, the biggest synagogue in Istanbul, Neve Shalom Synagogue opened its doors to Jewish believers. Unfortuenly this unique worship places attack by the terrorist twice, 1986 and 2003. Neve Shalom Synagogue can be visited within pre-defined visitation hours. You can visit the Neve Shalom Synagogue between 10.00 and 17.00 from Monday to Thursday, between 10.00 and 13.00 on Friday and between 10.00 and 17.00 on Sunday. Saturday is the holy day of the Jews, Neve Shalom Synagogue is closed for visitation. Neve Shalom Synagogue is in the Büyük Hendek Street.

Neve Shalom Synagogue
The name of the synagogue means the Peace Oasis (Source).

Galata Mevlevi Lodge (Galata Mevlevihanesi)

In Turkish, Mevlevi Lodge means Mevlevihane. Galata Mevlevi Lodge is the first Mevlevi lodge of Istanbul and one of the most historic buildings of the entire Ottoman era. The lodge is also known as Kulekapısı Mevlehanesi and Galipdede Tekkesi. Galata Mevlevihanesi severely damaged at the earthquake in 1509. Once more Galata Mevlevi Lodge damaged by the massive Topkapı fire. After the fire Sulta. III. Mustafa renovated the Galata Mevlevi Lodge entirely. The entrance of the Galata Mevlevihanesi is at the Galip Dede Street. The ticket price for the Mevlevi lodge is 14 Turkish Lira and opened to visitation between 09.00 and 17.00 except Monday.

Galata Mevlevi Lodge
Galata Mevlevi Lodge has a long-standing history (Story).

How to Spend a Day in Galata?

I just wrote down how you can plan your Galata Tour in a day one-by-one below. Basically, you can start your Galata Tour with breakfast at one of the vintage cafes of the Galata, then get up to the Galata Tower, visit Neve Shalom Synagogue and Galata Mevlevi Lodge, have lunch and walk to the Taksim or Karaköy through the narrow streets of Galata.

  • Use tunnel from Karaköy or historical tram from the Taksim to go to the Galata.
  • Have your Turkish breakfast at Velvet Cafe, Privato Cafe or Payidar Galata (Breakfast price should be around 90-100 Turkish Lira for two)
  • Buy a ticket for Galata Tower and go to the top of the Tower. Enjoy the panoramic view of the Istanbul and have enough pictures to post on Instagram 🙂
  • Visit Neve Shalom Synagogue and Galata Mevlevi Lodge
  • Have your lunch at one of the cafes given above or somewhere else you discover
  • Spend a couple of hours to find and explore the other gems of Galata
    • Crimea Church
    • Hidivyal Palas
    • Habib Gerez Art House
    • Bereketzae Ali Efendi Mosque Fountain
    • Kamondo House
    • Ceneviz House
    • St. Piyer House
    • Arab Mosque Foundation
    • Alefte Hatun Fountain
    • Ruins of the Genoese WAll at 3 different spot
    • Historical Fatih fountain

If you ever visited Galata Tower and the Galata District please share your experiences to improve this post. Also, if you have questions in your mind about Galata Tower and Galata District please feel free to share them in the comment section. Also, I’m waiting for your suggestions to improve the Galata Tour scheme in this post.

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