We don’t usually recommend stuff that is in every guidebook, but watching Istanbul from Galata Tower is one of most subtle ways of relating to this old and wise city, and this is more than enough to have him in our website. From the top of the tower you can see all seven hills of Istanbul along with every epoch and state of mind that she witnessed. You have Bosporus on one side and Golden Horn on the other and the old city with Topkapı Palace lies in front of you: a 360 degree view of Istanbul. With just a little bit of imagination, you can feel like a tower watchman from as early as the 6th century, looking out for the ships entering into the Bosporus, and setting off all the alarms in case of danger. How we wish İhsan Oktay Anar’s book was translated into English (Atlas of Misty Continents)! But it is available in French and German, so sooner or later, it will be translated into English, no worries.
Galata Tower is visible from almost every corner of Istanbul, and you can see an amazing Istanbul view from this tower. It is a historical monument indeed, built in the 6th century as a lighthouse by Byzantines, when Ottomans conquered Istanbul it was used as a dungeon, then in the 16th century it was a fire tower, and after a serious fire incident, Genoese rebuilt the tower in stone and give the tower its final shape etc. etc.
No one can love a stone tower because it is very old or it has a historical value. The thing about Galata Tower is that during those centuries, it has become a part of Istanbul, a resident of Istanbul, spreading tales about love, faith and life itself: They say Galata Tower is in love with the Maiden Tower for centuries but the Maiden Tower does not realize this cause she is dazzled by the surrounding ships; they say the lovers who are not meant to be together cannot go up to the tower together, because the tower does everything in his power to prevent them doing so; they say that you marry the person with whom you go up to the tower for the first time…
Besides, who can talk about Galata Tower and not mention legendary inventor Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi? The hero of the first human flight? Mad enough to make wings and go up to the Galata Tower in the 17th century and fly to Üsküdar? (When you are at the tower, take the Golden Horn on your right and look straight across Bosporus, there you have Üsküdar) There is a nice film about Hezarfen, directed by Mustafa Altıoklar, named İstanbul Kanatlarımın Altında (Istanbul Beneath my Wings) and below there is a wonderful 3d animated short film made by a team of animators, artists and sound designers.
One last thing: Galata Tower entrance fee is unfortunately higher for tourists and there is no discount for no one. Try not to get mad, it is not that expensive anyway. And do not think about getting a meal at the Tower’s restaurant, it is just tacky. The cafes and restaurants in Galata are excellent (click the Galata tag for our other recommendations). And tourists literally invade the Tower during the high season; it is very hard to find some peace up there. If you want a relatively quiet time and not to be bothered by never-ending photo-shots sounds, go there in weekdays. Watching the sunset from the Tower is amazing, but not when you are squashed into the narrow balcony with lots of people. Long story short: we say go there very early in the morning, during weekdays and watch the sunset only in low season (not in the summer).