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Istanbul Galata Tower tele 1

Istanbul Galata Tower tele 1

Galata tower with a 300 mm and some cropping from the top of a Han near the Nurosmaniye Mosque.

This massive tower, 68 m high, was built by the Genoese in 1349, on the spot where another tower had stood, reportedly built under emperor Anastasius I (491-518) but destroyed in 1261. Several floors were added in 1446. In 1453 the opposite happened: its two upper floors were pulled down, and the tower became a prison for some time. Later the two upper floors were rebuilt in wood, so that it could be a watch tower against city fires.

Regarding Genoa and the Byzantine Empire:
In 1169 already, the Byzantine emperor Manuel I signed a treaty with Genoa, in order to offset the domination of Venice in Mideterranean trade. One century later, Genoa assisted Michael VIII during his reconquest of Constantinopel upon the Latins. As a result, the Genoese obtained the control over Galata (on the northern side of the Golden Horn) as well as the vast majority (87 %) of the custom duties paid on the Bosphorus. The latter mined the Byzantine economy so badly (by increasing the prices, without any profit for the Byzantine state), that in 1348 John VI Kantakouzenos decided to lower all taxes drastically. The Genoese riposted by destroying the newly built Byzantine fleet and by building the Galata Tower (1349). By 1354 the Genuese position on the Bosphorus was restored, as they organised the palace revolution that installed Andronikos IV Palaiologos on the Byzantine throne. When the Ottomans besieged Constantinopel in 1453, the only external help the powerless Byzantine empire got, came from the Genoese captain Giustiniani and his 700 soldiers.

Correspondent: J.M.Criel, Antwerpen.
Sources: ‘Guides Bleus: Turquie’ – Edition 1986 & ‘La Civilisation Byzantine’ – André Guillou, Paris 1990.


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