Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Therefore to treat the Galata Bridge (in Turkish Galata Köprüsü) over the Golden Horn merely from the historic angle would be misleading. This bridge has not only been a means of getting from one side of the waterway to the other, but like a fellow citizen has had symbolic and spiritual significance in people's lives. From the end of the 19th century in particular, the bridge has featured in Turkish literature; in theater, poetry and novels. Above all in the latter medium there is hardly a novelist, including Hüseyin Rahmi Gürpinar and Ahmet Rasim , who has not mentioned this bridge.
The oldest recorded bridge in Istanbul was built over the Golden Horn in 1453 during the Turkish siege of the city. In the years 1502-1503 plans to construct a permanent bridge here were discussed, and with this object a design sketch was made by Leonardo da Vinci showing a single span bridge with double pillars at either end, 350 m long and 24 m wide. However, technical drawbacks made it impossible to realize this project, and another Italian artist, Michelangelo was invited to design a bridge for Istanbul. Michelangelo rejected the proposal, and the idea of building a bridge here was shelved until the 19th century.
In the early 19th century Mahmut II (1808-1839) had a bridge built at some distance up the waterway between Azapkapi and Unkapani. This bridge, known as the Hayratiye (Benefaction in English), was opened on September 3, 1836. The project was carried out by Deputy Lord High Admiral Fevzi Ahmet Pasa using the workers and facilities of the naval arsenal. According to the History of Lutfi this bridge was built on linked pontoons and was around 500 to 540 m long.
The first Galata Bridge at the mouth of the waterway was constructed in 1845 by Valide Sultan, the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid (1839-1861) and used for 18 years. It was known as the Cisr-i Cedid or New Bridge to distinguish it from the earlier bridge further up the Golden Horn, which became known as the Cisr-i Atik or Old Bridge.
On the Karaköy side of the bridge, there was an inscription as a couplet by poet Sinasi saying that the New Bridge was built by Abdulmecid Han. First to pass over the bridge was Sultan Abdulmecid, and the first to pass below it was the French captain Magnan in his ship the Cygne.
For the first three days crossing the bridge was free, after which a toll known as mürüriye was paid to the Naval Ministry. Toll collecting started on November 25, 1845 and the toll was charged:
- Free: military and law enforcement personnel, fire fighters on duty, clergy,
- 5 para: pedestrians,
- 10 para: backpacker people,
- 20 para: backpacker animals,
- 100 para: horse carriages,
- 3 para: sheep, goat or other animals
Toll was collected until May 31, 1930 by officials in white uniform standing on both ends of the bridge.
The second bridge
The third bridge
In 1870 a contract was signed with a French company, Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranée for construction of a third bridge, but the outbreak of war between France and Germany delayed the project, which was given instead to a British firm G. Wells in 1872. This bridge, completed in 1875, was 480 m long and 14 m wide and rested on 24 pontoons. It was built at a cost of 105,000 gold liras. This was used until 1912, when it was pulled upstream to replace the now genuinely old Cisr-i Atik Bridge.
The fourth bridge
The fourth Galata Bridge was built in 1912 by the German firm MAN AG for 350,000 gold liras. This floating bridge was 466 m long and 25 m wide. It is the bridge still familiar to many people today that was badly damaged in a fire in 1992 and towed up the Golden Horn to make way for the modern bridge now in use.
The fifth Galata bridge was built by the Turkish construction company STFA exactly on the same place of the previous bridge, between Karaköy and Eminönü, and completed in December 1994. It is a bascule bridge, ranking first of its type in the world which is 490 m long with a main span of 80 m. The deck of the bridge is 42 m wide and has three vehicular lanes and one walkway in each direction.
The Galata Bridge was a symbolic link between the traditional city of Istanbul proper, site of the imperial palace and principal religious and secular institutions of the empire, and the districts of Galata, Beyoglu, Sisli and Harbiye where a large proportion of the inhabitants were non-Muslims and where foreign merchants and diplomats lived and worked. In this respect the bridge bonded these two distinctive cultures. As Peyami Safa said in his novel, Fatih-Harbiye, a person who went from Fatih to Harbiye via the bridge set foot in a different civilization and different culture. Apart from its place in fiction, the romantic appearance of the Galata Bridge made it a subject of many paintings and engravings.
All daily city tours in Istanbul include this bridge as it's the passageway to the Old City of Constantinople.
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