Posted by: Stephanie Nawyn | June 21, 2010

Climbing to Galata Tower

I woke up early enough this morning to catch up on some posts.

On Saturday Henry and I had the afternoon to ourselves, as Zeynep’s end-of-the-school-year program was that day and the entire Birdal and Kavakli family attended. Murat’s mother (who I’ve always liked but now that I have her next door I adore) insisted we needed to go to Taksim square, which is in Beyoglu (pronounced “bay-yoh-loo” because of a swish above the “g” that I can’t figure out how to make on my keyboard). Between Taksim square and the port at Karakoy (remember my mistaking this port with Kadikoy) is Galata Tower, which my guidebook states was built in 1348 by the Genoese but the brochure I got from the tower itself claims that it was built in 528 by Byzantine Emperor Justinianus. I’m guessing the discrepancy is from how one defines “original structure” since the tower has burned down a few times. Either way, it’s really old, like many things in Istanbul.

Banu explained the easiest way to catch the funikiler (the old-fashioned tram operated by a pulley system), and Henry and I headed to the ferry. Which by the way, is an enjoyable experience in itself and only costs 1.5 lira.

After arriving at Karakoy from Kadikoy (can you see why I would have gotten these two confused?), we found the Tunel with relative ease. After the Tunel, we should get on the funikiler. Only I couldn’t find it. So I started to ask around. And I swear people kept directing me up the hill! Now, I knew that I was not suppose to go up the hill, because the funikiler was suppose to take me up it so I wouldn’t have to climb. Long story short, we climbed up the hill without the assistance of a pulley system. Here’s a few pictures that do not come close to capturing what a steep climb it was.

Henry on the historic steps leading to Galata Tower

You can see Galata Tower between the buildings

Narrow streets lined with shops

Henry really loved Galata Tower; as soon as he saw it he asked if we could go inside. This surprised me, since on this trip he has exhibited a paralyzing fear of heights. I did have to carry him up the steep, narrow spiral staircase, but otherwise he thought it was “really cool.” There’s a small square below the tower, and they had a stage and chairs set up, so we grabbed some fresh fruit and water from a nearby market and decided to check it out. Turns out it was Spanish Day, and the Cervantes Institute (I think basically a Spanish language school) was having pubic lessons. Seriously, tons of people sat in a city square to learn Spanish! I love Istanbul. Anyway, the instructor had a group of people of all ages in front of the crowd learning how to introduce themselves and say the basic Spanish I phrases (like “me gusta cerveza” or, since it was Turkey, “me gusto kebab”). Even Henry joined in, practicing his Spanish counting skills. It was the one time since I’ve been here when I was not with Banu but I still understood what was going on.

It was getting late at this point and I wanted to get back to Kadikoy so we could have dinner at Ciya Sofrasi (that will have to be its own post), so we never made it to Taksim. Maybe on the next trip.

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