Photo Essay: Istanbul's Galata Tower
Lonna Lisa Williams
On one of the last days of summer, I relaxed by Istanbul's Galata Tower and enjoyed the surrounding building, streets, and visitors.
Galata Tower, located in the historic Beyoglu district, was built by a Byzantine emperor in the Sixth Century and was first called The Tower of Christ. It was damaged by an earthquake in the Sixteenth Century, rebuilt, and used by Ottoman Suleiman the Magnificent as a prison. At the end of the sixteenth century, an astronomer built an observatory at the tower's top.
The tower is most famous for its role in the amazing 1638 flight of Hezarfen Ahmed Celebi who flew from the tower's top, using his artifical wings like those of a giant bird, and crossed the Bosporus waterway to land on the Asian continent. When Celebi landed, a sultan gave him a bag of gold coins. But the sultan was afraid of the clever man who had achieved flight, so he exiled Celebi to Algeria where poor Celebi died.
In the following centuries, Galata Tower was used as a muscians' band room and a fire lookout. After enduring fires and storms, it stands nine stories tall in its present state as a restaurant run by a private company. An elevator takes you to the seventh floor, and you can walk up the last two stories to the restaurant which features a 360-degree view of Istanbul.
My Turkish husband and I relaxed at the foot of Galata Tower on one of the last days of summer, enjoying the sounds of a man playing the cello, a mourning dove calling from the trees, people relaxing at a sidewalk cafe, tourists milling about, and workers sweeping their shops. Balconies and windows of old buildings surrounded us, each holding their own stories of the people who once lived in the shadow of Galata Tower.
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