Lately I traveled in Istanbul and was pleasantly surprised by the Galata Bridge. This bridge not only connects two main city districts, but also becomes a destination in itself. The bridge offers traffic on the elevated level. But there is lower level only for pedestrians. Here are many fish restaurants with a splendid view over de Golden Horn.
On the main bridge level runs a tram route connecting the Beyoğlu district and the Karaköy harbor with the historic center (Fatih district). Next to it lie two car lanes and two big pedestrian lanes.
The pedestrian lanes are not used only by the pedestrians, but they also facilitate many fishermen who (apparently quite successfully) catch the fish, which need to pass through the Golden Horn. These fishermen are on the bridge literally day and night, sun or rain. The fish are sold to nearby restaurants.
Below the main deck, along the dedicated pedestrian lane you can find many of these restaurants. The restaurants are placed within the belly of the bridge, and their terraces are placed next to the pedestrian lanes overlooking the Bosporus. Besides restaurants some pricy (nargile) bars can be found here. Also many small entrepreneurs are present here selling fake leather wallets, cigarettes, t-shirts and toys.
The bridge offers a most wonderful view on the city of Istanbul. On one site you see the big mosques, Topkapi palace and the Hagia Sophia. Looking at the other side you see houses rise on the Galata hill with the landmark tower. The bridge truly feels like it is located in the center of the city. Next to the bridges are the many docks for boats which travel to other Istanbul districts and main tramlines.
The bridge is a huge piece of infrastructure. It is very long, yet it doesn’t feel like an anonymous piece of concrete where the city briefly stops to exist. Despite it not being very pretty, it manages to give the feeling a continuation of a ‘normal’ street. There are always people and activity on the bridge. Be it the people traveling from one city district to the other, be it the always-present fishermen. This makes it feel like a safe place and together with the magnificient views fun to be.
Let me quote some data on the Galata bridge from a blog on ‘ thickened bridges’ :
- MASSING: CENTRAL LINEAR SWATH WITH OCCASIONAL CUT-THROUGHS
- VIEW: OUTWARD LOOKING (PERIPHERAL PATHS/LINEAR SEATING/GLASS WALLS)
- PROGRAM: RESTAURANT BELOW, FISHING AND TRAFFIC ABOVE
- LEVELS: DUAL (STREET/TRAM ABOVE, PEDESTRIAN BELOW)
- CONTEXT: INTEGRATED INTO CITY THROUGH INFRASTRUCTURAL CONNECTIONS
- STATURE: WATERFRONT BENEFITS FROM THE FUNCTIONS OF THE BRIDGE
- EXPERIENCE: UNFOLDS THROUGH USE (LOWER PATHS TUCKED AWAY, SHELTERED)
- More info can be found on this elaborate blog which includes an analysis of the thickened bridges typology: http://urbanwaterfront.blogspot.com/2011/05/thickened-bridges.html
- Geert Mak wrote a book on this bridge. He describes the livelyness of the bridge and the many people who dwell here. : http://www.geertmak.nl/nl/Europa/Boeken/De%20brug?t=180
- The wikipage with a historic description and many more images