Istanbul’s iconic Galata Tower will be turned into a museum and all the municipal-run businesses inside will be shut down to include the monument into a “culture trail” in the central Beyoğlu area, Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Nuri Ersoy said on June 25.
Noting that the monument is a fire tower built by the Republic of Genoa, the minister said they would attempt to recreate the town square formed was at its base after its construction in the 12th century.
“The Galata Tower is among Istanbul’s first town squares,” Ersoy said, adding that the museum would be designed to take visitors to the top by elevator at the start of the tour.
Visitors will then be encouraged to take the stairs down and tour the exhibits on all floors of the tower.
The minister noted that Galata Tower would become the starting point for a Beyoğlu cultural trail that will stretch all the way to Istanbul’s Taksim Square at the end of Istiklal Avenue.
“We wanted to direct the crowd that this attraction point will draw all the way to Taksim from Beyoğlu,” Ersoy said.
The trail will essentially run through the lower half of Istiklal Avenue, often called Pera, all the way up the avenue to the Taksim Mosque where construction started on 2017.
“It’s a mosque that a benefactor constructed. We’re opening a cultural center under it. It will be a cultural center where Islam works will be displayed.”
The mosque construction was only one of the many drastic architectural changes that the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) carried out in Taksim Square, including the rerouting of traffic, the demolition of the Ataturk Cultural Center (AKM) and the renovation around Gezi Park.
‘The AKM isn’t just a building’
The minister also noted that the construction of the AKM would be completed within a month, ongoing since February 2019.
The minister said that a “culture street” would also be constructed behind the center for businesses and restaurants.
The AKM had been constructed as one of Istanbul’s first large performance venues in 1969, initially named “Istanbul Culture Palace,” and was torn down 2018 after remaining closed for a decade.
The minister also said that work on the historic Emek Cinema was ongoing, and that the Atlas Cinema would be completely renovated.
Dating back to the late 19th century, both movie theaters’ closures had created public outcry among Istanbulites.