In 1453, the Turks wanted to move their troops from one side of the Golden Horn to the other, so they placed their ships side by side across the water and created a mobile bridge.
Sultan Bayezid II planned to construct the first bridge in 1502. Leonardo da Vinci, produced an ambitious design, however it was not to the Sultans’ liking. He then asked another Italian artist, Michelangelo to design a bridge for Istanbul, but Michelangelo was not interested. The plans to then build the bridge across the Golden Horn were put aside until the 19th century.
In 1845, Valide Sultan, the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid constructed a wooden bridge which was called the New Bridge, named so to distinguish it from an earlier bridge further up the Golden Horn. For the first three days it was free to cross the bridge, but on November 25th 1845, a toll was introduced with proceeds being paid to the Naval Ministry. This bridge was in use for 18 years.
A second wooden bridge, built by Ethem Pertev Pasa replaced the first bridge in 1863. Sultan Abdulaziz ordered that this bridge was built whilst he had other major works done on readiness for the visit by Napoleon III to Istanbul.
In 1870 a French company, Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranee were contracted to construct a third bridge, but due to the outbreak of war between France and Germany the project was delayed, and eventually a new contract was awarded to a British firm G. Wells, and the build was completed in 1875. This bridge was in use until 1912, when it was removed by pulling it upstream to replace the now genuinely old Bridge.
Huttenwerk Oberhausen AG were the builders of the fourth bridge in 1912. This bridge became badly damaged in a fire in 1992 and had to be towed up the Golden Horn to make way for the replacement modern bridge.
The remaining Galata Bridge was built by the Turkish construction company STFA and it is situated just a few metres away from the previous bridge, between Karakoy and Eminonu, and completed in December 1994. The bridge is 490 metres long with a main span of 80 metres. The deck of the bridge is 42 metres wide and accommodates three vehicular lanes and a single walkway in each direction. Recently tram tracks have been added to it, which allows for much better transportation links and making for ease of travel. This bridge is one of the only moveable bridges in the world that also has electrified rail tracks.
All city tours in Istanbul have to cross as it is the central route to the Old City of Constantinople. With such a vast history the bridge really is a must see. At sunset the views over Istanbul are truly spectacular.