Galata is one of the oldest neighborhoods of Istanbul located at the north of the Golden Horn, towards Taksim Square. Galata was surrounded by walls constructed by the Genoese until the 19th century. These walls started at Azapkapi near the Golden Horn. The Galata Tower was the northernmost observation tower and the walls were going down to Tophane neighborhood from this point.
Its original name was “Sykai” (fig field) during the Byzantine period. It was also called “Peran en Sykais” in Greek, which means “fig field of the other side”. Its name “Pera” which was used by the Levantines this origin. The origin of Galata was either “galaktos” (milk) in Greek or “calata” (stairway) in Italian.
Galata is on the European side of Istanbul both geographically and culturally. It was established as a western, Latin and Catholic colony right next to ancient Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Orthodox Byzantine Empire. Its governments changed hands between Venetians and Genoese, but it always remained Latin and Catholic. This did not change after the conquest of Istanbul. However, Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror made this a residential area for Greeks and Jews. Even though this made Galata a non-Latin place, it was still a non-Muslim area next to the capital of Islam.