General Info The distinguishing features of the city of Istanbul are its geographic location, unique natural beauty, and the great historical and cultural heritage which has come to symbolize the city. Istanbul is located on the Bosphorus peninsula, with Halic (Golden Horn) in the northwest of the country. It is the only city placed on two continents: European and Asian Regions. With a unique location, between the Balkans and Anatolia, the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, Istanbul embraces both western and eastern cultures.

Galata Bridge

It has been known as the Cisr-i Cedid, or the New Bridge, and was constructed in 1845 by Valide Sultan, the mother of Sultan Abd-ul-Mejid I (1823-1861). Admiral Hasan Ahmet Paşa renovated the bridge, putting it back into service in 1863 since it had been damanged in short span of time. At the end of 19th century, Aziziye Karakolu (Police Station) adorned it with eclectic accents built in the fore part of the bridge in the Galata district in order to increase pedestrian traffic and to quell the emerging (rising) discontent of the public.

After 37 years of service, a heavy bridge rolling with waterpower was constructed on the site. It was opened on the third aniversary of Sultan Mehmet V’s ascention to the throne in 1912.

The first time electric cars crossed this bridge between Eminönü and Karaköy was in January of 1914. The construction of a new bridge in the Golden Horn began in 1987. The Historical Galata Bridge was burnt for an unknown reason and a large fired damaged half of the bridge before the construction of the new bridge was completed in May 1992. After the fire, construction of the new bridge was accelerated, and it was opened on the site of the old bridge in June 1992.

The pieces of the old bridge, which was composed of 11 plaques, were left on the site in the Karaköy district, and the undamaged parts of the structure were carried away and placed on the foot in the Arttürk Bridge located in the Unkapanı district.

The Galata Bridge was being adequately protected against fire. Therefore, smoking was prohibited so as not to be burn the wooden platform of the bridge during day time. Moreover, the bridge has since been closed. It was known that the bridge was servicing pedestrians and carriages for hire, so a customary charge was initiated (müruriye).

The Galata Bridge is not only an architectural beauty, but it is also leaves a poetic image the life of the people of Istanbul.

Galata Bridge Projects

Leonardo da Vinci, born in the town of Vinci in the region of Florence, was invited to Istanbul during the reign of Sultan Bayezid II in the 16th century to built a bridge linking Eminönü to Karaköy. After Leonardo haddecided to come to Istanbul to built the bridge, he was later dissuaded Istanbul by the administration of the time. It appears from letters in the Topkapı Palace today that there was an action of Leonardo da Vinci on this head. The bridge building project of Leonardo da Vinci on the Golden Horn was implemented in Norway in 2000s. Furthermore, there were plans of another bridge project to be made on this site by Michelangelo.

Unkapanı Atatürk Bridge

Historically, on the site of the present Unkapanı Ataturk Bridge, there was a bridge called the “Jewish Bridge” (Yahudi Köprüsü) made of wooden planks. The purpose of building a bridge across the Golden Horn was to save citizens from paying a boat fee. For this reason, the bridge was known as the “Pious Deed Bridge” (Hayrat Köprüsü). The name of the bridge was changed to “Atatürk Bridge” in 1935.

The Covered Bazaar

The Covered Bazaar is a large complex consisting of 61 streets, 4400 shops, 2195 workshops, 18 fountains, 2 bedestens (vaulted and waterproofed areas of the bazaar where valuable goods are kept), 40 inns, 12 small mosques (mescit), 12 warehouses, 1 school, 1 bath, and 19 water wells.

The main gates of the Covered Bazaar are Beyazıt, Fesçiler, Sahaflar, Kürkçüler, Nuriosmaniye, Mahmutpaşa, Mercan, Tacirciler and Örücüler. The bazaar is traditionally closed after sunset. However, it was opened twice at night; first, during the fire in 1546, and during the celebraton ceremonies of Abdulmecit’s (1839-1861) return from his campaign in Egypt.

Most sections of the Covered Bazaar are built of wood during the reign of Suleiman The Magnificient (1494 – 1566) as an extension to the old part which was built during the reign of Mehmet II. The wooden part, which suffered great damage from three large fires, first in 1546 (the reign of Suleiman The Magnificent), second in 1651 (the reign of Murad V) and lastly in 1710 (the reign of Mustafa II), was rebuilt using stone.

The Covered Bazaar, with an area of 31.000 m², resembles a labyrinth. The roof is covered with lead and has numerous domes. Moreover, the Inner Bedesten (İç Bedesten), which is reported to have existed since the Byzantine period, measures 48x36m² with 8 columns and 15 domes.

From the past to the present, the bazaar has been repaired and restored many times. The most notable damage to the bazaar occurred during an earthquake in 1894.

The bazaar, with its architectural style designed specifically for enclosed shopping centers, entertains many visitors who come for both commercial and touristic purposes from different countries speaking different languages every day.

Egyptian Bazaar

It is said that an old bazaar called Makron Envalos previously existed where the current Egyptian Bazaar stands.

The Egyptian Bazaar with its L-shape structure is located on the west side of the New Mosque (Yeni Cami). The year following the mosque’s construction, the "bazaar" section of the complex has been added by Mustafa Ağa, the head-architect of the Ottoman Palace. The main reason for it being called the “Egyptian Bazaar” is that it was built by the taxes collected from Cairo, Egypt. After the 18th century, this name began to be commonly used. The bazaar was originally called the “Valide Bazaar” or the “New Bazaar,” then it was later called the “Mısır Çarşısı” (Egyptian Bazaar). It has six doors total. The part near the Haseki Gate was designed as a double-storied structure and the upper floor also used as a court hall where cases between tradesmen and people were heard.

At the intersection of the the short and long branches of the bazaar an area is called the “Prayer Field” (Dua Meydanı) is located where an “Adhan ( Muslim call to prayer) Kiosk” is found. This section, designed and built out of wood, is the most notable part of the Bazaar. Once the bazaar opens, an officer in charge calls a prayer for the tradesmen and wishes them a high income.

Not only have spices been sold in the Egyptian Bazaar, but all sorts of medicines were sold during the old times in the bazaar as well. Signs used to be posted in conspicuous area of the shops. Most of the medicines were prepared according to the recipes from the book, “Nüzhet-ül Fi Tercüme-Afiyet” (A good appetite). Today, the bazaar has jewelry stores, herb and spice sellers, gift shops, etc.

The Egyptian Bazaar suffered heavy losses during the two large fires in 1691 and 1940. It took its present shape in 1940 after being restored by the Municipality of Istanbul.

Arasta Bazaar

“Arasta” is a bazaar where handcraft products are sold. The Arasta Bazaar is located directly behind the Blue Mosque, on the north side of Torun Street. There are more than seventy stores in the bazaar. It is also known as the “Sipahi Çarşisi” in Turkish because the needs of the Sipahi (the name of an Ottoman cavalry corps) were sold here during the Ottoman period.

The Arasta Bazaar was re-built on Byzantine ruins and is located on a narrow street with many lovely gift shops selling carpets, kilims, travel souvenirs, İznik tiles, scarves, etc on both sides of the street. The mosaics found in the environs of the Arasta Bazaar during excavation works in 1930s proved that the territory once had belonged to a Byzantine Palace complex.

After a fire in 1912, the bazaar lay in ruins for a long time. Later, it was occupied by slum residents. The slums were laterremoved and shops were restored. The Bazaar was put into service by the General Directorate of Turkish Foundations in the 1980s.

Sahaflar Book Market

The Sahaflar Book Market has a long history dating back to the 15th century. It is located between a stony place on the left-hand side of the Beyazit Mosque and the Sedefçiler Gate of the Covered Bazaar. In olden times, book stores used to supply the needs of madrasah students and were therefore located around the madrasahs. After the Covered Bazaar was built in 1460, these book stores were grouped together in a common area. The stores that had operated in the Covered Bazaar until the earthquakes in 1460 and 1894 moved to their present locationg which was already known as Hakkaklar Çarşısı.

Tradesmen of the Sahaflar Book Market belonged to Antiquarian Book Stores Trade Guild. They could not open a store without obtaining degree and rank of mastership following a period of apprenticeship. They used to open and close their shops according to the times of prayer. The spiritual guide of the Bookseller Trade Guild was Basralı Abdullah Yetimi Efendi, who is also known as one of the first booksellers of the Sahaflar Book Market.

Antonie Galland, a French author and the interpreter of the French Embassy who lived during the 17th century, gave a calligraphy manuscript decorated with miniatures to the King of France. It is now on exhibit at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.

Evliya Çelebi, the famous Ottoman traveler of the 17th century, wrote in his book of travels “Seyahatname,” that there were 50 bookstores and 300 antiquarian booksellers serving scholars at the time.

The Sahaflar Book Market, including its thousands of calligraphy manuscripts, was completely destroyed in a fire during 1950. The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality confiscated the unburned part of the Sahaflar Book Market and began restoration. The wooden shops have been made into reinforced concrete shops and it has been turned into the present Book Market. In addition, there is a fixed bust of İbrahim Müteferrika (1674-1745), the first Ottoman publisher and printer in the middle of the market. Today, there are 23 bookstores in the Market, 17 of which are two-story shops.

The German Fountain

The German Fountain is located in Sultanahmet Square in Istanbul across from the Mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed I. It was constructed to commemorate the second anniversary of the German Emperor Wilhelm II's visit to Istanbul in 1898. The fountain's plans were drawn by the architect Spitta and was constructed by the architect Schoele. The German architect Carlitzik and the Italian architect Joseph Anthony also worked on this project.

It was officially opened January 27, 1901, on the birthday of German Emperor Wilhelm II. It was built in Germany, then transported piece by piece and reassembled in its current site in 1900. The Neo-Renaissance style of fountain's octagonal dome features eight marble columns, and the dome's interior is covered with golden mosaics. The Neo-Renaissance style of the octagonal fountain stands on a high floor with a staircase of eight stairs, seven brass faucets and, covering its reservoir, there is a dome which has eight porphyry columns. The exterior bronze green dome, which stands these over eight porphyry columns, and the dome's interior surface are decorated with golden mosaics as well as with Abdülhamid II's tughra and Wilhelm II's symbol.

The archs between the columns showcase the deep-rooted friendship between Turkey and Germany, and being situated in Sultanahmet Square, the artistic value of the fountain is further brought out.

Üsküdar Ahmet III Fountain

Üsküdar Ahmet III Fountain is located in Üsküdar Square across from the quay, which was built near the shore to serve passengers traveling accross the Bosphorus by Sultan Ahmet III in 1728. It has arrived in its present location during the square planar arrangement.

The fountain is made of solid marble, and inscribed on the side facing the square are verses by the famous Divan poet, Nedim. On the wall facing the mosque there are excerpts from the poet Rahmi, and on another wall are those from the poet Shakir. On the wall facing the Bosphorus one can read verses inspired by Ahmed III and his son-in-law, Nevşehirli Ibrahim Paşa, written in calligraphy by Ahmet III. There are many aspects and adornments of this fountain that give it a very different complexion. Among these are the many S and C curves used in its design, its badges on the niches of the polygonal prisma body, and how its polygonal body turns into square prisma after a certain height. A number of vases on which tulips, roses and chrysanthemums are used as motifs, used to decorate the side of the fountain, are viewed as the most beautiful samples of artistic workmanship on the fountain. In addition, other architectural beauties, such as muqarnases (a three-dimentional decoration of Islam architecture), lancet arches, and palmets add a brilliant aesthetic value to the fountain.

Today, the Fountain, which is located on the Main Street of Üsküdar where Hakimiyeti Milliye Street and Paşalimanı Street intersect, is one of the most beautiful fountains of Istanbul.

The Esma Sultan Fountain

The Esma Sultan Fountain and its namazgah (an open-air prayer terrace constructed for the use both of travellers on caravan routes and for visitors to the outskirts of cities) were built by Esma Sultan, a daughter of Sultan Ahmet III (1673-1736), in Kadırga Square in 1781. It has four water faucets with marble basins undeneath whichlocated on each side of the fountain and in order to step up onto the namazgah, there is a marble staircase on the lateral facade.

There are three faucets located on the northern side and an additional one on each of the other sides of this historical fountain. The faucets fitted on opposite sides of the fountain with rectangular parallelepiped blocks are decorated with S and C curves, adding an artistic aesthetic to the fountain. Decorated niche pendentives having a rectangular panel board in which an inscription of six verses are form the surface of board. This inscription indicates the construction date of the fountain. There are two basins placed on buttresses which are built in a reverse bell-shaped style on both the northern and western corners of the fountain. There is also a watering hole with three divisions on the southern corner.

The namazgâh platform, whose prayer terrace was constructed on top of the fountain itself, is accessible by a staircase on the northern side of the fountain and has a special importance in terms of showing the importance of cleanliness in Islamic culture.

III Ahmet Sebil And Fountain

It is one of the historical and magnificient fountains of Istanbul, which was built on the site of the previous Byzantine fountain called “Peryaton” by Sultan Ahmet III (1673-1736) in 1728. The fountain lies in front of Bab-ı Hümayun, the gate of the Topkapı Palace and overlooks the square due to its position in the center of the Ayasofya square.

The structure, which has a water reservoir in the shape of an octagonal prism located in its center, consists of sabils (public fountain) fitted on the corners of the water reservoir and water faucets fitted on its sides. The primary structure, which is placed on a floor with two stairs, features an aesthetic view of various architectural works, such as plant motifs, decorations, muqarnas (a three-dimentional decoration of Islam architecture), and palmets and it is supported with borders and niches used on the fountain. Moreover, the framed word of "Maşallah" (meaning may God preserve one from evil) written in calligraphy in medallion and real flower motifs drawn in the long vases carry spectacular display of artistry. A lead-covered wooden roof which constitutes the ceiling structure of the fountain was extended in all directions in order to protect it against the negative effects of sunlight and other environmental damage. The roof has an artistic value by getting free of simplicity with little domes on top of the fountain and decorations on wooden eaves.

The inscription on the fountain written with “talik hat calligraphy” is by Seyyid Hüseyin Vehbi bin Ahmed, a poet and judge of the cities of Kayseri and Aleppo which ends with praise for Allah (s.w.t): “Turn on the tap in the name of Allah (s.w.t), drink water and pray for Sultan Ahmed.” It is rumoured that the last verse of the inscription was said by Sultan Ahmed III and there is the signature of the Sultan Ahmed III at the end of the inscription.

This monumental fountain, which was built when Western influence was at its greatest point during the final period of the Ottoman architectural period shows the transition from Classical to Baroque architecture. It invites tourists, who come to Istanbul and have an opportunity to see the fountain, to journey back in time to the 18th century.

Valens Aqueduct

The Valens Aqueduct stands in Istanbul, in the quarter of Fatih, and spans the valley between the hills which are today occupied by Istanbul University and the Fatih Mosque. It is a creation of the late Roman and the early Byzantine time. It is uncertain as to when the aqueduct’s construction began, but it is mentioned in certain sources that it was completed eithe during the reign of Emperor Valens (364–378CE) or of Hadrianus (117–138CE) whose names it bears. The aqueduct was later repaired during the rule of Emperor Justinian II (576), Konstantinos V (741–775), and Basileios II (1019). After the 11th century, and during the siege and invasion of the city, it received a large amount of damage.

During the 6th century, the Valens Aqueduct was used to provide water to the palaces of Istanbul, the Ahilleus Bath, and the Cistern. Nevertheless, according to Ruy Gonzáles de Clavijo, a Castilian diplomat who traveled to Constantinople en route to an embassy in 1403, the aqueduct was also used to water the gardens. After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Sultan Mehmet II repaired the whole water supply and added new arches to the structure in order to attempt to solve the water shortage problem of the city. During the Ottoman period, it was also repaired several times. The repairs and the addition of new lines and arches to the water-supplying net continued during the reign of Bayezid II (1447/48-1512), Suleiman I (1494-1566), and Mustafa II (1664-1703). These restoration works made a sufficient impact on the ability of the Valens Aqueduct to reach the present day.

It is thought that the Aqueduct of Valens had a length exceeding 1000 meters during the early Byzantine period, but today it had an average length of 971 meters and a maximum height of about 28 meters (63.5 meters above sea level). A great part of the Valens Aqueduct was destroyed and only the part located on Atatürk Boulevard has survived today. H. Prost, who prepared the structural plan of Istanbul, enabled vehicles to proceed through the Valens without causing any damage during World War II. The part of the Valens Aqueduct located on Atatürk Boulevard was cleaned and strengthened by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality in 1988. This historical structure was restored between 1990 and 1993 by Doğan Kuban and Ş. Akıncı.

Tophane Fountain

The Tophane Square Fountain is located in a triangular area between Necati Bey and Tophane Streets in the Tophane Neighborhood of Beyoğlu District of Istanbul and was built upon the orders of Sultan Mahmut I (1730-1754) in 1732. The fountain is a work of art by the architect Mehmet Ağa and its history was detailed by the poet Nahifi. It also forms an arhitectural unity with the Kılıç Ali Paşa Mosque.

The monumental size of the structure, which marks the transition from Classical to Baroque style architecture seen in its decoration, helped it to become one of the highlighted architectural elements in the area where it is located. Among the fountains of Istanbul built in a square shape, this fountain’s wide eaves and sharply arched niches reflect an aesthetic harmony betweenBaroque and Classical Ottoman architecture.

The natural motifs of the Tophane Fountain consist of flowers clustered in vases showcasing a Naturmort style. The fountain was built during the transitional period and it shows examples of the most beautiful architectural techniques of this period’s style. This important work was restored by Sakasu, a Sabancı Group company, in 2006 and was put into service for the people of Istanbul. During restoration works, the rich ornaments of the fountain were enriched by 23 karat golden leaf with an area of 40 square meters. The fountain was put into service during a magnificent opening ceremony with the participation of Kadir Topbaş, the mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, and Güler Sabancı, the CEO of Sabancı Group.

Ayşe Sultan Fountain

The Ayşe Sultan Fountain is located on Imrahor Street, in front of Imrahor Mosque in Üsküdar. It was built upon the order of Ayşe Sultan, a daughter of Sultan Murat III (1546-1595). The historical inscription that is found on the facade of the fountain is a verse written in celi sulus script. It reads: “Pure water of the fountain of life 1007.”

The most charming element of the structure which preserves traces of Ottoman architecture from the Classical period is the red and white panelled arch. This arch is decorated with palmated rosettes that are tiered with a slight arch molding. By incorporating these techniques, the aesthetic image of the structure was reinforced. This outstanding Ottoman fountain and its facade decorated with plant motifs was actively used until 1940. In the following years, the water of the fountain was provided from the city’s water network.

Topkapi Palace

The Topkapı Palace, previously known as Saray-i Cedid-I Amire, received its name from one of the city wall’s gatesduring the 19th century. The construction of the Topkapi Palace began twenty years after the Conquest of Istanbul. Although its construction was compete in 1479, addititons were continuously made to the palace. Having an area of 700 thousand square meters, it expands from the Ayasofya to Gülhane, and from Gülhane to Sirkeci and is surrounded with a high and wide wall, called sur-i sultani. The walls of the palace are stretched from the Sepetçiler Kasri [Mansion] to the Ahir Kapısı [Stable House Gate]. There are 28 towers over the wall. Part of the wall facing the seashore was demolished to create a railway passage in 1888. Seaside mansions also received their share from this demolition.

It is estimated that the Topkapı Palace had around 13 gates. Most of these gate have since vanished. The majestic Bab-i Humayun Gate of the Topkapı Palace is located in the direction of the Ayasofya, facing of the sea, and across from the Sultanahmet Fountain. This gate is the main entrance of the palace. It was first built during the period of Sultan Fatih and has gone through several restorations. It is a witnessed to many historical events throughout the Ottoman History, and the gate still preserves its magnificence. This gate used to open with the Sabah Ezani [Subuh / Morning Prayer Call] and closed with the Yatsi Ezani [Ishaa / Late Evening Prayer Call]. There is the Tugra [Sultan’s Signature] of Sultan Mehmet II and a stele indicating the historical record of the building in 1478. Another stele was placed by Sultan Abdülaziz in 1867 detailing its reconstruction.

There is the primary courtyard in the inner part of Bab-i Humayun. This courtyard was greatly damaged in a fire which broke out in the 19th century. There is a “deavi kosku [mansion]” in this courtyard where citizens’ letters of application were accepted. In the right hand side of the gate, there were the offices for treasury public servants, and which were once used as an infirmary. Moreover, the palace’s bake house was located behind the wall on the right side of the courtyard. The Ara Irin Church is located on the left side of the palace. The Imperial Mint is also very close by and it is open to the public as a mint museum. Towards the end of the courtyard, there is a fountain called the “Cellat Çeşmesi / Executioner’s Fountain.” Across from it is the Bab-us Selam [Gate of Welcoming/Greeting] which opens into a second courtyard.

The Bab-us Selam Gate is the real entrance of the Palace. It was rebuilt by Sultan Murat III and there are two towers on it. The words, “There is no God, but Allah; and Mohammad is His Servant and Prophet” are written on the outside of the gate. On the wings of the iron gate, there is an inscription stating that Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent had it molded. When one enters through the Bab-us Selam, age-old plane trees welcome the visitor. This gate is opens onto five pathways: the palace’s kitchen, the Bab-us Saadet, the Divan, the Harem and the palace’s stable house.

The Divan was a place where bureaucratic issues were discussed during the Ottoman Period. The first hall was the major section, also known as kubbealtı [underneath the dome], in which the meetings were held. In the other hall the defterhane [registry] kept records in its archives. The Harem was use for the Sultan’s wife, jariyahs [bondwomen], and his mother. There were around 300 reception rooms in the selamlık [welcoming section for men]. Another structure which catches the eye in the Harem is the Tower of Justice. Two pillars belonging to the 5th and 6th centuries were uncovered during excavation works which took place in the second courtyard in 1959. It is unknown as to how and why these Byzantine remains were brought there. The palace’s Kitchen was so greatly damaged in a fire in 1574 that Sultan Murat III asked Mimar Sinan to rebuild and expand it. The Bab-us Saadet Gate in the second courtyard opens into the private parts of the palace and into the third courtyard.

There is an Arz Room where the Sultan admitted vezirs [ministers] after the meetings in the Divan. Built during the period of Sultan Fatih, the Arz Room fell into ruins and was rebuilt during Sultan Selim I’s rule. The palace’s school surrounds the Arz Room and it occupies a wide space within the third courtyard. The palace’s school was a kind of bureaucrat school İn which students were trained to meet the statesman needs of the Ottoman Empire. Established during the period of Sultan Fatih, the school also educated Christian citizens of the Ottoman Empire over the age of ten in a system called devşirme [dawshirmah]. Another important place is the Hirka-i Serif room where the cloak of the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is displayed. The Hirka-i Serif was brought in by Sultan Selim I, along with other sacred trusts, to Istanbul. Towards the center of the courtyard is the Sultan Ahmet III Library built in 1719. Another building found in the third courtyard is the mosque of the Palace’s School, Agalar Mosque. The Has Room was located next to the mosque and it was used for the successful students of the school.

After passing through the exhibition halls full of clocks and miniatures, the fourth courtyard appears. In the fourth courtyard, the most prominent structures are the Sunnet [Circumcision] Room and the Hekimbasi Room, and the Sofa, Revan, and Baghdad Mansions are alos found there. The Revan Mansion was built in 1634 by Sultan Murat IV to celebrate the seize of Erivan from the Iranians. The inner part of the building is fully cover with Iznik ceramic tiles and the cupboard handles are inlaid with nacre. The Baghdad Mansion is another mansion built by Sultan Murat IV. It was built on December 25, 1638 to commemorate the conquest of Baghdad, and as such, it was named after the city. The Sunnet Room was built later in 1641 by Deli İbrahim. In this room, Ottoman princes were circumcised for nearly two centuries. Another work by İbrahim is the bronze baldachin on the side of the terrace, which he named as the Iftariye Mansion, built in 1640.

The last structure built within the Topkapı Palace was the Mecidiye Mansion overlooking the Golden Horn, Marmara, and Bosphorus. The building was constructed during the rule of Abdülmecit in 1840.

Now transformed into a museum, the Topkapı Palace allows its visitors to witness the history, culture, grandeur, magnificence, and profusion of an Empire which lasted for a very long time.

Galata Tower

Although it is not completely certain as to when the Galata Tower was built, it is claimed that the it was built during the reign of the Byzantian Emperor, Iustinianos in 507 CE.

It was called the Christea Turris (Tower of Christ) by the Genoese and the Megalos Pyrgos (The Great Tower) by the Byzantines. It took its present shape during the Genoese period. The Tower was heavily damaged during an earthquake in 1509, and it was renewed by the architect, Hayrettin, who was very famous during that period. During the reign of Süleiman the Magnificent (1520-66), it was used as a jail for prisoners who were sentenced to work at the Kasımpaşa Naval Dockyard. The head astrologer, Takıyeddin Efendi, established an observatory on the top of the tower at the end of the 16th century and functioned as an observatory for a particular period of time. Later, it was closed and again turned into a prison by Sultan Murat III (1546-1595).

In 1638, Hezarfen Ahmet Çelebi flew as an early aviator using artificial wings from this tower across the Bosphorus to the slopes of Üsküdar on the Anatolian side during the reign of Murad V. Towards the 17th century, it was used by the Mehter Band, the janissary band of musicians. After 1717, it was used as a fire-observatory tower, butthe tower itself was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 1794.

After it was repaired, a cumba, a little room made of wood, was added to the tower during the reign of Sultan Selim III (1761-1808). After another fire in 1831, Sultan Mahmut added two more floors to the Tower and covered the top of the tower with a famous cloth in the shape of a conical hat. An inscription written by Pertev Paşa concerning the tower’s repair works was affixedduring that time. After a strong storm in 1875, the framework of the roofwas damaged and was late repaired in 1960. Today, the Galata Tower operates solely as a touristic attraction by a private company. The elevator only goes to the 7th floor, and the last two floors of the tower must be climbed by stairs.

After passing though the restaurant on the top floor, there is a balcony that encircles the tower. The restaurant’s view showcases a scene of Istanbul and the Bosphorus.


The height of the tower is 66.90 meters (62.59 meters non-including the ornament on top), the outer diameter is 16.45 meters, the inner diameter is 8.95 meters, and the thickness of the wall is 3.75 meters.

Beyazit Tower

During the Byzantine period, there was a tower called “Tetratsiyon” built for observing fires in remote areas where the current Beyazit Tower stands. In 1749, during the Ottoman period, the tower was built by the architect, Kirkor Balyan, who finished his education in L’École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. It holds the distinction of being the first fire observing tower. The tower was built by Hüseyin Ağa and has been called “Harik Kiosk” or “Harik Tower.” The word “harik” means fire. The performers in the tower are called “köşklü, köşlü, or dideban.” During the march of insurgents, the wooden tower was set on fire by the Janissaries. The tower was rebuilt on the same site in 1828 out of stone by Senekerim Balyan, the brother of the architect Kirkor Balyan under the command of Sultan Mahmut II. Before the Beyazıt Tower was constucted, the minarets of the Süleymaniye Mosque were used to observe fires. The height of the tower measures 85 meters, And the tower has a wooden staircase of 256 steps.

The Maiden’s Tower

The Maiden’s Tower is located 150-200 meters off the shore of the Salacak district in Üsküdar. Although it is not definite as to when the Maiden’s Tower was built, the tower’s architectural style is said by some sources to be from around 340 BCE.

Previous names of the Maiden’s Tower were Damalis and Leandros. Damalis is the name of the wife of the king of Athens,Kharis. When Damalis died, she was buried on the shore, and the name Damalis was given to the Tower. It was also known during Byzantine times as “arcla” which means “a little castle.”

After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Turks, the tower was pulled down and a wooden tower was constructed in its place. The wooden tower was destroyed by a fire in 1719. It was rebuilt from stone once again by the head architect of the city, Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa. The cone-capped part of the tower was taken away and a kiosk fitted with glass replaced it. A lead-covered dome was later added to the kiosk. Rakım Efendi, a famous calligrapher, added an inscription with Sultan Mahmut II’s signature on marble and placed it above tower’s door. A lantern was added to the tower in 1857, and in 1920, the tower’s light was a converted into an automatic lighting system.

The Maiden’s Tower has been used for many different purposes over time, such as a tax collection area from merchantman, a defense tower, and a lighthouse. During the cholera epidemic in 1830, it was used as a quarantine hospital and radio station. During the Republic Period, it was again used as a light house for a little while. The tower was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in 1964 and then to Maritime Enterprises in 1982. It has undergone renovations and presently functions as a restaurant open to the public owned by a private company.

The legends of the Maiden’s Tower

The Legend of Leandros

According to this legend, a young man named Leandros falls in love with a nun named Hero who is faithful to Afrodit. However, as a nun, falling in love with someone is taboo for Hero. Hero lives in the Maiden’s Tower. Every night, Hero builds a fire in the tower so that Leandros may find his way to her by swimming to the tower. Thus, they meet every night. One night, however,the bonfire started by Hero is put out by a storm, That very night, Leandros loses his own way in the cold waters of the Bosphorus and dies. When Hero hears of what happened to Leandros, she cannot endure the pain and commits suicide.

The Princess Legend

Once upon a time, a soothsayer makes the prediction to the King that his daughter will die as a result of a snakebite. Thereupon, the King has a castle built in the sea in order to protect his daughter. Time passes and the girl grows up in the castle. However, the prediction made by the soothsayer was inevitably comes true as a snake hiding a fruit basket carried to the princess bites and kills her.

The Battalgazi Legend

A man named Battalgazi falls in love with the daughter of the tekfur, a Christian ruler of a town or a locality. However, he does not bestow his daughter to Battalgazi, and to protect her, places her in the tower. Battalgazi attacks the tower and abducts the girl. He mounts his horse with the tekfur’s dauhgter and rides away very quickly. There is an expression, “he who takes the horse got by Üsküdar” which comes from this legend.

Translated by Mr. Irfan KOKSAL, By IMM Website 


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