Galata Bridge

ISTANBUL, Turkey (Türkiye) — The Galata Bridge has multiple personalities. It spans the Golden Horn from Eminonu to Karakoy and provides both a real and symbolic link connecting two key parts of Istanbul.

Fishermen on Galata Bridge Istanbul
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Filed Under: Turkey / Türkiye

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

Fishing off the Galata Bridge in Istanbul
Near the ferry terminals on the Eminonu side.Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishing off the Galata Bridge in Istanbul with Mosque in background
You can see the silhouette of the Suleymaniye Mosque in the background. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fish sandwiches in Istanbul
Floating fish restaurants on the Eminonu waterfront. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Galata Bridge Istanbul
The road is on the top level. Underneath is another level of bars and restaurants. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen on Galata Bridge Istanbul
Looking toward Eminonu, with the Suleymaniye Mosque in the background. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen on Galata Bridge Istanbul
Lit up in the background to the left is the Galata Tower. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Eminonu and Suleymaniye Mosque Istanbul
The floating fish restaurants in the foreground, with Suleymaniye Mosque in the background. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Galata Bridge at Dusk in Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishing off the Galata Bridge in Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Istanbul waterfront at night
The bustling plaza at the Eminonu foot of the bridge, with the floating fish restaurants.Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen and the Galata Tower
Galata Tower in the background. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Grilled fish boats at Eminonu
The kitchen. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen on Galata Bridge Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen at the Galata Bridge in Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishing Supplies on Galata Bridge Istanbul
A fisherman’s gear. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishermen on Galata Bridge Istanbul
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishing off the Galata Bridge in Istanbul at night
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fishing from bridge in Golden Horn
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Padlocks on Galata Bridge Istanbul
As with so many other famous bridges, some tourists try to export the idea behind the locks on the Pont des Artes in Paris. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Galata Bridge fishermen
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Eminonu waterfront at dusk
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Sunset reflection of Istanbul fishermen
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Grilling fish sandwiches
Grilling fish sandwiches. Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Fish grill at Eminonu
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel
Eminonu waterfront at night
Photo by David Coleman / Have Camera Will Travel

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).

About the Galata Bridge

  • Location: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Connects Karaköy and Eminönü districts
  • Spans the Golden Horn waterway
  • First bridge built in 1845
  • Current version completed in 1994
  • Total length: 490 meters (1,608 feet)
  • Width: 42 meters (138 feet)
  • Features a bascule design (drawbridge)
  • Carries two lanes of road traffic, tramway, and pedestrian walkways
  • Contains two levels: vehicular and pedestrian traffic on the upper level, and businesses on the lower level
  • Lower level houses restaurants, cafes, and shops
  • Serves as a popular gathering and fishing spot for locals
  • Offers views of historic sites like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque
  • Symbolizes the connection between the historic and modern parts of Istanbul
  • Has been featured in literature, films, and other works of art

Want to Read More About Istanbul?

Istanbul is a city of extraordinary depth and history. If you’re looking to dive deeper, here are some books worth a look. (Some are also available as audiobooks—great for a long flight or train ride.)

Istanbul: Memories and the City, by Orhan Pamuk

In this memoir, the Nobel Prize-winning Turkish author reflects on his childhood and youth in Istanbul, offering a rich portrayal of the city’s history, culture, and ever-changing landscape.

Istanbul: Memories and the City (Paperback)
  • OrhanPamuk (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain

This classic travelogue follows Mark Twain as he journeys through Europe and the Holy Land, including a visit to Istanbul, which he captures with his trademark wit and humor.

The Innocents Abroad: Original Illustrations
  • Twain, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City, by Hilary Sumner-Boyd and John Freely

This comprehensive guide and travelogue takes readers on a historical and cultural journey through Istanbul, detailing its most famous landmarks and hidden gems.

Strolling Through Istanbul: The Classic Guide to the City
  • Sumner-Boyd, Hilary (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andrić

This historical novel, by a winner of the Nobel Prize for literature, is set in the Ottoman Empire. It tells the story of the construction of the famous Mehmed Paša Sokolović Bridge in Višegrad, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the lives of the people who lived around it. While not set in Istanbul specifically, it offers a window into the wider region’s history and Ottoman influence.

The Bridge on the Drina (Phoenix Fiction)
  • Andric, Ivo (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

A Fez of the Heart: Travels Around Turkey in Search of a Hat, by Jeremy Seal

This travelogue follows the author’s journey through Turkey, including a visit to Istanbul, as he explores the country’s history, culture, and politics, all while searching for the once-iconic fez hat.

A Fez of the Heart: Travels around Turkey in Search of a Hat
  • Seal, Jeremy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Birds Have Also Gone, by Yashar Kemal

In this novel, set in Istanbul, the author tells the story of three boys who capture and sell pigeons in the city, offering a unique perspective on the city’s rapidly changing landscape and the challenges faced by its inhabitants.

The Birds Have Also Gone
  • Yaşar Kemal (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

The Towers of Trebizond, by Rose Macaulay

This satirical travelogue (i.e., a novel) follows the narrator as she embarks on an eccentric journey to Istanbul and the ancient city of Trebizond, exploring themes of love, religion, and the clash of cultures.

The Towers of Trebizond: A Novel (FSG Classics)
  • Macaulay, Rose (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

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Travel Advice for Turkey (Turkiye)

You can find the latest U.S. Department of State travel advisories and information for Turkey (Turkiye) (such as entry visa requirements and vaccination requirements) here.

The British and Australian governments offer their own country-specific travel information. You can find the British Government's travel advice for Turkey (Turkiye) here and the Australian Government's here.

Health & Vaccinations

The CDC makes country-specific recommendations for vaccinations and health for travelers. You can find their latest information for Turkey (Turkiye) here.

General Information on Turkey (Turkiye)

The CIA's World Factbook contains a lot of good factual information Turkey (Turkiye) and is updated frequently.

  • Official Name: Republic of Turkey (Türkiye Cumhuriyeti)
  • Location: Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia (the Anatolian Peninsula), bordered by eight countries: Greece and Bulgaria to the northwest, Georgia to the northeast, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Iran to the east, and Iraq and Syria to the south
  • Coastline: Mediterranean Sea to the south, Aegean Sea to the west, and Black Sea to the north
  • Capital: Ankara
  • Largest City: Istanbul
  • Population (2021 estimate): 85 million
  • Ethnic Groups: Predominantly Turkish (70-75%), Kurds (19%), and other minorities (including Arabs, Circassians, and Laz)
  • Official Language: Turkish
  • Religions: Islam (predominantly Sunni), with small Christian and Jewish communities
  • Government: Unitary parliamentary republic
  • President (as of 2021): Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
  • Prime Minister (as of 2021): Not applicable (the position was abolished in 2018)
  • Area: 783,356 square kilometers (302,455 square miles)
  • GDP (2021 estimate): $771 billion (nominal)
  • GDP per capita (2021 estimate): $9,042 (nominal)
  • Currency: Turkish Lira (TRY)
  • Time Zone: GMT+3 (Turkey Time)
  • Internet TLD: .tr
  • Calling Code: +90
  • Major Industries: Textiles, food processing, automotive, electronics, tourism, mining, steel, petroleum, construction, lumber, paper
  • Natural Resources: Coal, iron ore, copper, chromium, antimony, mercury, gold, barite, borate, celestite, emery, feldspar, limestone, magnesite, marble, perlite, pumice, pyrites, clay, hydropower, arable land

Turkey vs Turkiye vs Türkiye

The country's name has traditionally been Anglicized as Turkey, and that's how most of us have always known it. But the country's government has been pushing for adoption of the Turkish-language name, Türkiye. Since that doesn't always work well on Anglicized keyboards, you also often see it rendered as Turkiye. You can find more information on this here.

David Coleman / Photographer

David Coleman

I'm a freelance travel photographer based in Washington DC. Seven continents, up mountains, underwater, and a bunch of places in between. My images have appeared in numerous publications, and you can check out some of my gear reviews and tips here. More »