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  • Writer's pictureTerry Richardson

A Brief History of Çamlıca Tower in Istanbul

What is Çamlıca Tower?

Çamlıca Tower is a 369-metre tower on the Asian side of Istanbul that serves both as a communications mast and a superb viewpoint over the city.

Camlica Tower

Çamlıca Tower History

This futuristic addition to Istanbul’s skyline stands on top of Küçük Çamlıca Tepesi, a 288-metre hill in Üsküdar, a largely residential district on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Commissioned by Turkey’s Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, construction started in 2016 and was completed in 2020. The inauguration of the tower was not until the 29th of May 2021, a date chosen for its symbolic significance as, in 1453, it was the day Constantinople (as it was then called) was captured by the Ottoman Turks.

The architect was award-winning Melike Altınışık, who had previously worked in the London offices of Zaha Hadid Architects before forming her own company in her native Turkey. The design is inspired by the flower that was the symbol of Ottoman-era Turkey, the tulip, with the main body of the tower resembling the stem, and the bulbous viewing terrace and restaurant floors reminiscent of the budding flower. Built largely of concrete on an 18-metre-deep foundation, the twin observation decks on the 33rd and 34th floors, and cafés and restaurants on the 39th and 40th floors, are reached by a glass-enclosed elevator, allowing panoramic views during the ascent. Prior to the construction of the Çamlıca Tower, numerous unsightly radio masts and antennae disfigured Küçük Çamlıca Tepesi and a neighbouring hill. These have now all been dismantled or demolished, supplanted by the 168-metre steel mast topping the concrete tower.

Originally estimated to cost around $70 million, the eventual bill was in excess of $120 million. Fortunately, the tower is more than a tourist attraction and has become the first TV and radio tower in the world that is able to broadcast 100 channels simultaneously.

The tower is the tallest structure in Istanbul, situated on an already elevated site, and the views it offers across the sprawling metropolis are breathtaking. It’s the ideal spot to get to grips with the topography of this continent-straddling city.

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