The Galata Bridge has multiple personalities. It spans the Golden Horn from Eminonu to Karakoy and provides both a real and symbolic link between two key parts of the city.
On the top level, a constant stream of road and tram traffic makes the bridge bounce as the cars, buses, trucks, and trams rumble by. Hundreds of fisherman stake out a spot along the bridge at dusk, hanging their multi-hooked lines over the edge, competing for the fish below.
Down below, on a second level, are rows of restaurants and bars. Most are tourist traps. In one, you'll find tourists treated to all of the cliches of a Turkish fish restaurant. Next to it might be a modern nightclub. In another, you might find full of locals watching a Turkish soccer game on the large-screen TV. All have a great view out over the Golden Horn.
There's been a bridge spanning the Golden Horn in this general area since the 6th century. But there have been multiple versions, particularly since the 1830s, and the Galata Bridge's vital role in connecting historic parts of Istanbul has added an air of mystery and romanticism. But the current version isn't old at all. The first phase--the upper level for transportation--was completed in 1994, while the second--the lower level for restaurants and bars--was completed in 2003.
It has been multi-level for a long time, other aspects have changed. Trams used to run down the middle of the bridge, and boats used to dock along the bridge itself as if it was actually a long pier. You can see a good example from the 1950s amongst these beautiful photos of Istanbul by Ara Guler.
Photos of Galata Bridge
What to Know Before You Go to Galata Bridge
- Galata Bridge is easily accessible from either Eminonu or Karakoy waterfronts. From either of those spots you can't miss it.
- It's very pedestrian-friendly, with a wide walkway on top and another below. Up top, particularly, can get crowded, especially in the evening. The lower level involves some stairs in the middle in the bridge, where there's a break for boats to pass through.
- It's 1600 feet (490 meters) long. If you don't feel like walking both ways, there's a tram stop at each end (T1 line, Eminonu and Karakoy).
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