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BEYOĞLU GUIDE

The Galata Tower

It is the only and most monumental of the twenty-four towers in the urban defense system which was enlarged a few times, of Galata which was an almost independent Genovese colony town for more than two hundred years until the conquest which has managed to survive.
The tower, which is of giant size (165 m diameter, 68 m height) which could be completed with the support and aid of Murad II in 1350 which was called by the Byzantians as Megalos Pyrgos and by the Genovese as Torre di Cristo (Tower of Jesus) has changed shape few times in the Ottoman period. Presently, it is conserved in its form it took in 1830s.
While Mehmet the Conqueror granted certain relative rights to the Genovese remaining in Galata, on the other hand, has started a Turkification of Galata and in tradition, has had 1.5 meters of the top section of the tower demolished. By mid 16th century, the tower is an Ottoman tower with pointed conic top just like the other towers of the city. Although it is rather far from the royal shipyards in Kasımpaşa, it has been used as a place of accommodation for the slaves made to work in the shipyard and a warehouse for tools and equipment. 
Big drums called “kös”es (ketlledrum) were beat from the tower to make everyone aware of the fires which rampaged through Istanbul in the 17th century. The tower itself was also burnt at the end of the century as it was trying to watch the fires. By orders of Sultan Mahmud II, a "cihannüma" which had a hall, divanhane and few rooms with windowed mansionettes on four sides was built.
The cihannüma burnt down in early 19th century as well. The top part of the tower was reshaped once again: An arched, large windowed hall then a setback floor which had arched windows behind a balcony surrounding the hall floor and a very pointed conical top roof.
When the wind blew away that very pointed cap in 1875, an ugly look was introduced by building in place of it a multi-cornered two small floors. The tower was contemporarized with a highly comprehensive restoration in mid-1960s. At the beginning of 2000s, an attempt is made that the tower is renovated once again taking on more level headed functions and is conserved.

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