Galata Tower - Istanbul
Galata Tower - Istanbul

Galata Tower

The Galata Tower was constructed in 1384 on the highest point of the ramparts surrounding the Genoese colony, known as Galata. In the early times of the Ottomans, the tower was used by the Janissary corps. In the 16th century prisoners from the fleets were kept here. During the reign of Selim III (1566-1574) the Turkish astronomer Takiuddin renovated the tower and used it as an observation center. In the following century during reign of Mustafa II (1695-1703) Seyhiilislam Feyzullah Efendi, together with a Jesuit priest, tried to set up a place for observation on the tower, but his effort was cut short by his murder in 1703.

The Galata Tower was rebuilt in 1832 by Mahmut II, for various reasons, mostly because of the great Galata fire in 1794, during the reign of Selim III. The conical top of the tower was blown away by a storm in 1875 and was not replaced in subsequent renovations. Until 1964 the tower was used as afire control station and was closed until renovation in 1967. During the renovation, while keeping the Ottoman changes in mind, the conical top was replaced as it was considered more fitting to the Genoese construction of the original tower.

Surrounded by the Marmara Sea to the south, the straits of the Bosphorus to the east, the Golden Horn to the north, Istanbul, formerly Byzantine, then Constantinople until the Conquest, was founded on an historical peninsula. Galata, across from the shores of the Golden Horn, was the area in which a Genoese colony lived in ancient times. The Galata Tower was a part of the fortification of the area called Galata. Devastated by earthquakes and other disasters over the years, the tower takes its shape today from repairs done during the reign of Mahmut II.

At first used for defense, the tower was then used for prisoners of war who worked in the factories in the 16th century. In the 18th century it became a lodge for Mevlevi Dervishes whose duty was to announce the hour of midnight. From 1874 on, the tower was used as a fire observation station. Repaired in 1967, the top floor of the tower is used as a restaurant today.

The diameter of the bottom floor is 8.95 meters; the wall is 3.75 meters thick; the outer diameter is 16.45 meters. The tower is 60 meters high.

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