/ The Istanbul Guide
Istanbul — By inka on April 5, 2010 at 10:08 am
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Over and under the Galata Bridge

You can’t get very far in Istanbul without meeting water. Sea of Marmaris, Golden Horn and Bosporus surround the city’s various parts and districts on three sides and hence traffic either on the water or over bridges is a way of life.

One of the most colourful and historically  interesting is the Galata Bridge which connects the ‘Old Istanbul’ of Eminönü and Sultanahmed with the ‘New Istanbul’ of Galata, Taksim  and Beyoglu.

Fishermen on the Galata Bridge

Leonardo da Vinci and the Galata Bridge

The present bridge only dates from 1992. The four predecessors are where the interesting facts are involved. The first bridge spanning the Golden Horn was built in 1453 and was a very simple, wooden  structure. However, it seemed to have served the purpose well , because it wasn’t until the 16th century that the then Ottoman sultans became ambitious. None less than Leonardo da Vinci designed a span bridge which should have been 250 m long, 8m wide and 24m high. His plans, regrettably, resulted too unfeasible and probably also too expensive, so that plan was abandoned.

Next, another illustrious Italian artist was approached, Michelangelo. But, the master shrugged his shoulders and simply turned the offer down!

In the early 19th century, Sultan Mahmut II had a bridge built which was a bit further up. It was the well known pontoon bridge which was some 500m long.

That bridge was severely damaged in a fire , the remains pulled further up the Golden Horn and the 1992 bridge came into being. Many locals still remember the beloved pontoon bridge.

How to get there

Yet again the best means of public transport to reach the Galata Bridge is the #38 streetcar. I like to take the streetcar in the direction of Kabatas and to get off at the Karakoy stop, just over the bridge. Then  I walk back across the bridge and enjoy the views of Istanbul and the Golden Horn as well as the hustle and bustle on the bridge itself.

What to do and to see

At any given day, the Galata Bridge is teeming not only with cars and pedestrians, but also with fishermen, who cast their rods in the water below. Their catch is either for their own consumption or is sold at the floating fish stalls at the Eminönü end.

Fish buns are Istanbul’s favourite snack and no visit is complete without a fish sandwich bought and consumed at the Galata bridge. The cooks grill the freshest filet of fish on the richly decorated boat, then, with a well practised flick of the wrist and a fork remove the spine and bones, slab the filet in a split, hot bun, add pickles and you have the most delicious snack on the go.It’s cheap too: all of  TYL 4 which is about $ 2.25.

Fish bun vendors under the Galata Bridge

Then descend the stairs and walk back along the promenade on the underside of the bridge.

Restaurants and colourful cafes which are a favourite with the citizens of Istanbul line the length of the bridge and you can have a coffee or tea and watch the ferries churn by. You can’t see the cafes from above, so don’t forget to go downstairs and do as the locals do.

Photographs are the author’s own.

Related places:
  1. A
    Galata Bridge
    View Details and Book
  2. B
    Taksim Square
    View Details and Book
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