The 67-meter-high Galata Tower is hard to miss. Perched in the old medieval Genoese settlement of Galata, it keeps watch over the entire city.
Restored several times, the tower is one of the oldest in the world and has been used for various purposes. Today, it is undoubtedly one of the most iconic landmarks of Istanbul. From this must-see, you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city.
In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know before visiting the legendary tower, including its history, tickets, opening hours and more.
Entrance, Tickets & Tours to Galata Tower
FAST TRACK TICKET + TOUR
Enter to the monument by the fast track entry and avoid waiting in line. Get a 90 min guided walking tour of the neighborhood by an historian guide in English.
Things to do at Galata Tower
The Galata Tower, a remnant of the Genoese colony in Istanbul, rises at the top of the Walls of Galata, at the entrance to the Golden Horn. With its cylindrical structure, the tower dominates the cityscape and is one of the most visited attractions in Istanbul.
Today, the Galata Tower is used as a museum with exhibition halls. It has a total of nine floors. Two elevators take visitors up to the seventh floor.
Below, you can find out what to expect at Galata Tower:
The exhibitions are spread on the lower floors, but it is best to visit them on the way down. You can see interactive screens with a quiz about Istanbul, as well as an animated short film depicting the old Istanbul.
One of the exhibition's highlights is a simulation where you will not only learn about the legend of Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi, but you can even take on the role of Hezarfen yourself. Hezarfen is said to have flown from the Galata Tower across the Bosphorus to the Anatolian side in 1638, with the help of artificial wings that he attached to his arms.
Other exhibition highlights in Galata Tower are:
- The Tower’s History
- Istanbul’s liberation from occupying forces in 1923
- Interactive model of the city
- The Haliç Chain
- Medieval boat model
- Excavation finds from the Roman period, the Genoese settlement, and Ottoman era
On your way down the narrow staircases, also look out for the round-arched windows. They were probably used for camouflaged observation and guarding, but today give a nice view of the rooftops and streets of Istanbul.
2. Observation Deck
A spiral staircase leads you from the 7th floor to the last two floors. The observation deck is located at the top of the landmark.
Once at the top, you can step onto the narrow balcony with metal decorations and enjoy the breathtaking 360-degree view over the rooftops of Istanbul. It is not for nothing that Galata Tower is considered one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the city. Indeed, from here you can take in one of the best aerial views of Istanbul’s Historical Peninsula, the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Bridge.
Tip: This is a great place to experience the beauty of Istanbul during sunset. But remember to come early because the waiting lines are usually very long.
3. Souvenir Shop
On your way down, near to the exit/entrance, you will come across the level that serves as a small souvenir shop. Here you can find exceptional souvenirs of your Istanbul trip, such as colorful ceramics, mythological figures, and, of course, the Galata Tower in a variety of colors and shapes.
Also, find numerous shops selling all sorts of souvenirs and qualitative items like leather bags of linen homewear on Galip Dede avenue.
4. Galata Tower Restaurant
Since the renovation in 2020, the popular restaurant and café in the Galata Tower, which served breakfast and dinner, has been closed.
5. Photo Opportunities
Galata Tower is the perfect photo location, as it offers not one but two great perspectives for pictures of Istanbul. Whether it's for an epic Instagram shot or a commemorative photo, Galata Tower is one of the favorite spots of Istanbul visitors to take pictures.
Needless to say that the view that opens up to you from the top offers wonderful photo opportunities, but the Galata Tower itself is also the perfect backdrop for a photo.
Tip: Try to come back after dusk, because the illuminated Galata Tower is also very impressive at night.
6. Attractions near Galata Tower
Wandering through the narrow alleys and brick streets around the Galata Tower, you can really feel the European atmosphere in this part of the city. Browse through small boutiques and souvenir shops and sit down in one of the charming cafés.
How to get to Galata Tower?
The Galata Tower is positioned between the Galata and Karakoy neighborhoods, close to Galataport and the Galata Bridge.
From Sultanahmet: Take the tram line T1 and go 4 stops to Karaköy station. You will get to Galata Tower after a 10-minute walk.
From Taksim: Take the M2 metro and go one stop to Şişhane station. From here you can reach the tower in 5 minutes on foot.
Frequently Asked Questions about Galata Tower
Galata Tower was originally built in 528 by the order of the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius. The Genoese rebuilt it in the 14th century as Tower of Christ. After the city was conquered by the Ottomans, it first served as a dungeon and then as a fire watchtower. Today it is considered one of the most famous landmarks of Istanbul, and serves as a museum and vantage point.
Galata Tower is positioned between the Galata and Karakoy neighborhoods, close to Galataport and the Galata Bridge.
The easiest way to get to Galata Tower from Sultanahmet Square is by taking the tram line T1 and going 4 stops to Karaköy station. From here, you will get there after a 10-minute walk.
From Taksim, take the M2 metro and go one stop to Şişhane station. You can reach the tower in 5 minutes on foot.
Galata Tower is one of the best vantage points of Istanbul, offering a spectacular view of the Old City. You can take fantastic photos and admire the architecture of the old watchtower. Also, take a look at the exhibitions that are spread over the lower levels of Galata Tower. Don’t miss the impressive simulation of Harfezen, where you can fly across the Bosphorus to Üsküdar.
Worth seeing are also the surroundings of the Galata Tower. You can discover the historic neighborhood and its hidden gems on your own or at a walking tour.
Galata Tower is open everyday from 08:30 to 24:00.
The entrance fee for Galata Tower is 100 TL. Note: Istanbul Museum Pass Holders enjoy free admission.
Historical Facts & Info about Galata Tower
Galata Tower was originally built around 527 under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I as part of the defense system. It was rebuilt in 1348-49 by the Genoese as the "Tower of Christ" or "Christea Turris", marking the top of a fortress built to defend the independence of the Genoese colony of Galata directly opposite Constantinople. With a thickness of more than 3 meters, the walls of the Galata Tower show its massive stability.
After the conquest of 1453, the Ottomans took over the tower and stationed the Sultan's Janissary troops here. Later, it was used as a prison, a watchtower and from the late Ottoman period until the 1960s as a fire station.
Despite repeated damage, the Galata Tower, which has survived not only a series of earthquakes but also storms and fires, has withstood it all. In 1967, it was restored by the master architect Köksal Anadol. After all these years, he restored the original facade and reconstructed the conical roof of Galata Tower. Later, Galata Tower was privatized, renovated and opened for tourism. In 2013, the tower was included in the UNESCO World Heritage tentative list. Since its renovation in 2020, Galata Tower serves as a museum and continues to be one of the most beautiful viewpoints of Istanbul.
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