When Hezarfen Ahmet Celebi tried to fly from the top of the 62-meter-high Galata Tower across the Bosphorus to Asia in 1638, most thought it the improbable hallucination of a mad scientist. Yet it was a dream befitting a period in which the Ottomans' imperial aspirations were truly astounding - and, like the winged Celebi, successful.
Standing atop the tower today, with all of Istanbul spread out 360 degrees all around, one appreciates the incredibleness of the feat, even while hoping to avoid trying to duplicate it oneself.
Although venturing onto the uppermost cylindrical ramparts of this narrow tower built by the Genoese in 1348 induces vertigo for some, it is a truly magical experience, especially at sunset, when the low haze of smog hanging over the western horizon turns the sky copper-red, as the distant mosques start to wail mournfully, seabirds circle down over the boats of the Golden Horn, and the bridges below resonate with the burden of traffic. Indeed, it is at the Galata Tower where one can truly experience this sprawling city in all its unfathomable glory, briefly attaining the tranquillity to take it all in, far above the massed multitudes of Istanbul's streets.
Galata Tower- Büyük Hendel Sok, Beyoglu, up from Karakoy
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