Galata, which used to be called Sykai in late antiquity, was surrounded by walls during the reign of Byzantine emperor Constantine the Great. Later, it was settled by the Genoese. Mehmet the Conqueror, who took the city in 1453, chose not to relocate the people in Galata after the conquest; in fact, he offered them a pact, opting to benefit from the area's diverse stock market and banking system. The district still has a notably Western feel and was home to Genoese, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Europeans and Arabs.
Even though Islamic streets were constructed in the primarily Jewish and Greek district after the conquest, the residents inside the walls preferred keeping themselves away from the cultural "other side." Despite it being the city of their birth, there are many residents of Istanbul who never saw Galata, likely avoiding it due to its wine houses and infamous nightlife. Küplü Mehyane is one of these famous restaurants and once held great vats of raki, Turkey's famous alcoholic drink, earning it a reputation for debauchery among local Muslim residents. Patrons were often seen drinking cheap raki from jar.
The final years of the Ottoman Empire prevented young people from frequenting Küplü Mehyanesi as the district was long known for its anti-Ottoman stance and was reportedly a hive of activity aimed at undermining the empire. Today the district, with Galata Tower at its center, encompasses Kasimpasa Stream, Tophane, Galatasaray and Beyoglu.
Start walking from Galatasaray along Istiklal Street. Go down toward Galip Dede Mevlevihane, ask or check your map if necessary. You will come across famous Islamic buildings such as Mevlevihane, Sahkulu Mosque, Mueyyedzade Mosque, Bereketzade Mosque and Hodja Ali Mosque east and near the top of the streets around the tower. On the other side southwest of the tower you will see other religious sites, such as St. Benoit High School, Askhenaz Synagogue, Surp Hisus Pirgic Church and the British Hospital.
We visit the tower in Galata, from where you can see a good part of Istanbul. The building, which used to have a cross on top and was called Christea Turris, was constructed by the Genoese. Mehmet the Conqueror had the cross removed, and today's tower owes its shape to Sultan Mahmut II. The building was used as the navy's dungeon in the 16th century as well as an observatory for the astronomer Takiyyuddin. It later served as a fire observation tower until 1874.
Galata Tower is still very important in Istanbul. These days the Renaissance-era firemen have been replaced by tourists who climb up the tower to get a great view of Istanbul. Its most interesting bit of notoriety, however, is the distinction of being the world's oldest standing tower with a restaurant and night club located inside.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16