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Galata Tower: For the best view of Istanbul

When in Istanbul, it’s always a good idea to start your day at Sultanahmet Square. After all, there is so much to see and do. After spending almost the entire previous day there, I went back. From there, a 40 minute walk to my destination didn’t seem like the most exciting proposition, so I decided to use public transport. Part of the fun of using the system is working out what the system is – all I had to do was get a new istanbulkart card and add money to it. Sounds simple, right? The only problem was I couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out how to get the kiosk to switch the language to English.

Riding the Istanbul Tram

Having seen me struggle for a good five minutes, the gentleman at the kiosk next to me helped me out. After expressing my gratitude, I took the T1 tram from Sultanahmet station and after a short ride of 10 minutes (4 stops), got off at the Karaköy İstasyonu station. The ride itself is pretty fun as it gives you some cool views of Istanbul, especially while crossing the Galata bridge.

First glimpse of the tower from Galata Bridge

From the Karaköy İstasyonu station, it’s a short walk of about 600 meters and even though Google said ten minutes, it took me almost double that time because of the elevation. Of all things travel, walking the streets in a foreign land is what I’ve loved the most – to see how different life is from back home, and yet, it’s the same. As I got closer, I got my first good view of the gigantic tower – it was magnificent. I was already eager to get to the top. I found out a few minutes later that I wasn’t the only one – there was a long queue ahead of me; the wait got just a bit longer.

Walking uphill to Galata Tower

I had to wait for almost 45 minutes before I finally got a chance to get in. I’d still call that lucky as it’s not uncommon to see the line wrap around the tower – wait time can sometimes be hours. The tower has a total of 9 floors but the elevator takes you up to only the 7th floor. You have to walk the last two floors to get to the observation deck. There’s also a restaurant on the 9th floor in case you end up feeling hungry after the long wait. I skipped the restaurant and went straight to the observation deck.

Entrance fee to the Galata Tower is ₺35 TRY, which is a little over $5 USD.

Before we get to the view, here’s a little history lesson on Galata Tower – it was built of wood as lighthouse in 528 by Byzantine Emperor Anastasius Oilosuz. It was rebuilt of stone masonry and called Christea Turris (Christ Tower) by the Genoese in 1348. Ultimately, it was captured by the Turks when Istanbul was conquered in 1453.

Alright, time to enjoy the view – what all historical landmarks can you identify? Blue Mosque? Hagia Sophia? Let me know in the comments section below.

I think I spent a good one hour, just enjoying not only the breathtaking views but also the nice cool breeze, up there. Just as I was heading back down, I realized this was also an opportunity for me to change my months old DP (display picture)… ha! The only challenge was finding someone who would understand my creative vision. To my delight, it didn’t that long. After the initial struggle, I think we both got it right; or maybe not. But what I do know is that this day began with a stranger helping me out and ended with another stranger doing the same – and that’s why, I love to travel.

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