Watching the view from the Galata Tower early in the morning is a good way to start your day in Istanbul. You will not only avoid the queue at the ticket counters, you will also enjoy calmly the view from its narrow balcony without the crowds. This medieval stone tower, cylinder shaped with a conical roof, dating from the thirteenth century stands still today at this bohemian neighbourhood offering a 360 degree view of the city including the Golden Horn, historical peninsula and the Bosphorus.
As you walk towards the entrance of the tower you will read these words on the wall: ‘The key of the Genovese tower was handed to Sultan Fatih the Conqueror on the 29th of May, year 1453.’ The quarter of Pera, which was then largely inhabited by the non-Muslim population during the Ottoman era, still reflects the multi cultural aspect of those times. From synagogues to catholic churches one can both make a cultural tour of the city while enjoying its cafes and vibrant night life.
Once you are down at the little square of Galata Tower, surrounded by restaurants and cafés you may then continue your walking tour to visit the Galata Mevlevi Lodge. Built in late 15th century as the house of the Muslim Mystics, a sect originating in 13th century Konya, then the capital of the Selcuki Empire, is today known famously for the whirling dervishes. It is situated at the end of the famous pedestrian Istiklal Street and the beginning of Galip Dede Street, the narrow street lined with shops that sell musical instruments. As you walk into the museum you feel the tranquility in the air. The garden of the museum-lodge is home to the tombs of the mystics and the wooden house itself tells you the story of various sects in Islamic Mysticism. The Sema House where the prayers were held is also inside the house and from time to time the whirling dervishes may have prayers here.
You may then walk down back to the Galata tower and then continue to the hip district of Karakoy filled with cafes, stylish design shops and art galleries.