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ISTANBUL – the Historic Galata Tower

The Galata Tower, officially known as the Galata Tower Museum, is a historic landmark in the Galata district of Istanbul, Turkey. Originally built as a watchtower by the Genoese in 1348, it stands at 219.5 feet and was the tallest structure in the city at that time.

The tower has a rich history, dating back to the Byzantine period when Emperor Justinian built a predecessor tower, later destroyed during the Crusades. The current structure, named Christea Turris (Tower of Christ), was erected as part of the Genoese fortifications in the Romanesque style.

Following the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the Genoese colony was dismantled, and most of its walls were demolished. However, the Galata Tower was preserved and repurposed over the centuries, serving various functions including a prison and a fire-watch tower.

The tower’s most famous legend involves Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi, who, in 1638, allegedly flew from its roof across the Bosphorus to Üsküdar. This story, though often disputed, adds to the tower’s mystique.

Significant restorations occurred over the centuries, notably in the late 18th and early 19th centuries following fires, and in the mid-20th century when the conical roof, destroyed in 1875, was reconstructed. In 2020, the Galata Tower underwent extensive restoration and was reopened as a museum.

Today, the Galata Tower is a popular tourist attraction, offering panoramic 360-degree views of Istanbul from its observation deck. It stands as a symbol of the city’s historical and architectural heritage.

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