The tower has had many uses since it was first built, but today it serves purely as a tourist attraction.
During the earthquake of 1509 the tower was badly damaged and it fell to the architect Hayrettin to rebuild. The Tower served as a prison during the reign of Suleiman; and the prisoners were made to work at the naval yard. After this, Takiyeddin Efendi, the astrologer then turned the Tower into an observatory and it closed at the end of the 16th century until Sultan Murat III reopened it again as a prison.
1638 saw the aviator Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi fly using artificial wings from the Tower across Bosphorus to the slopes of Uskudar. Towards the 17th century; the Mehter Band played at the Tower and after 1717, it was used to observe fires. Once again in 1794 the Tower was destroyed by a fire.
Sultan Selim III had the Tower rebuilt to include an additional room, alas yet another fire in 1831 saw it burnt down again. Sultan Mahmut commissioned the rebuilding of the Tower and added two floors and the top was covered in a conical shaped cloth. It was a strong storm in 1875 that left the roof needing repair; these repairs were finally completed in 1960.
The Galata Tower is now owned and run by a private company and the Tower is now nine floors with the top two only being accessible via the stairs.
The Tower stands nearly 67 metres in height and 17 metres wide and is located in Istanbul, and today is one of the most famous landmarks. The Tower underwent its last set of refurbishments in 1990 and opened as an attraction soon after this. The Galata Tower is very prominent against the skyline and definitely worth a visit.
The view from the observation desk at the top of the Tower is absolutely unforgettable as you get a full panoramic view right over Istanbul. There is an elevator to the seventh floor but you have to walk the last two flights to reach the very top.
The Galata Tower is open from 9am – 8pm seven days a week and the entrance fee is 10TL. The balcony that circles the top of the Tower closes at 7pm. There is a restaurant at the top of the Tower and if you plan your visit so you are there in the evening there are also some spectacular dancers providing additional entertainment.
The easiest way to get to the Galata Tower is via the metro to Taksim tunnel then walk sown Galipdede Street, then look up and you will see the majestic Tower in all its glory.
For a true look at Istanbul, and to really appreciate the history, a visit to Galata Tower should definitely be on your list.