Galata & the Golden Horn

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Galata of the Genoese

Called Galata by the Genoese traders who settled here in Byzantine times, this Istanbul district on the north shore of the Golden Horn was a separate city for most of its history.

The Galata Tower was the apex of the city walls, which descended the hill to left and right to the Golden Horn. The walls are mostly gone, but the Tower of Christ (as the Genoese named it) remains as an observation point, restaurant and nightclub. It’s also the center of the Galata Renaissance, a movement to restore many of the 18th- and 19th-century buildings and turn them into modern apartments.

During the Ottoman centuries, Galata—called Karaköy by the Turks—continued to have Istanbul‘s busiest docks and wharfs. The foreign shipping offices and counting-houses were here, which may be why most of the major banks had their headquarters just up the hill. (The large white building to the left in the photo was once the headquarters of the Ottoman Bank.)

Today it’s still the main mooring-place for cruise ships visiting the city, the district into which seafaring visitors disembark.

 

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