Galatasaray High School

Galatasaray High School; Turkish: Galatasaray Lisesi, French: Lycée de Galatasaray), established in Istanbul in 1481, is the oldest high school in Turkey. It is also the second-oldest Turkish educational institution after Istanbul University, which was established in 1453.[1] The name Galatasaray means Galata Palace, as the school is located at the far end of Galata, the medieval Genoese enclave above the Golden Horn in what is now the district of Beyoğlu.

Galatasaray High School
Galatasaray Lisesi
Lycée de Galatasaray

Lyceum Galatasarensis
Coordinates41°01′58″N 28°58′43″E / 41.03278°N 28.97861°E / 41.03278; 28.97861
Former namesGalatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi
Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai
Lyceum Imperialis Ottomanicus Galatasarensis
School typePublic, Boarding
FounderBayezid II
PrincipalProf. M. Reşat Dabak
Color(s)Red   Yellow  

A highly selective school, Galatasaray High School is often compared to the likes of Eton College in England and Lycée Louis-le-Grand in France.[2] [failed verification] Since it is now an Anatolian High School, access to the school is open to any student who achieves a high enough score in nationwide entrance exams; the intake, therefore, consists of the top-scoring 0.03% of students from across the country. Drawing on a blend of the Turkish and French school curricula, Galatasaray High School provides education in both languages.

The association football club Galatasaray S.K. was formed by and named after the institution (in the club's formative years the footballers consisted entirely of students from the school). Galatasaray High School is the progenitor of the Galatasaray Community, which includes the football club, its parent Galatasaray Sports Club, and Galatasaray University.

The High School has served as the alma mater of a string of famous figures in the worlds of art, writing and politics.



Origins (1481–1830)

First logo of GSL
Entrance gate of Galatasaray High School on İstiklal Avenue in Istanbul
Courtyard of Galatasaray High School

Bayezid II (1447–1512) founded the Galata Sarayı Enderun-u Hümayunu (Galata Palace Imperial School) in 1481. The sultan often roamed the city, disguised as an ordinary citizen and legend has it that on one of these rambles he found a garden in Galata filled with beautiful red and yellow roses. In this garden, he met Gül Baba (Father Rose) of the Bektashi Order. The Sultan asked the wise man about how to improve the Empire and the city as they filled with immigrants. Gül Baba explained that he was happy with the city, his rose garden and the reign of the Sultan, but he would be even happier if there was a school which would educate students from this diverse range of backgrounds, as this would train the wise men needed to serve such a large Empire. He told the Sultan he would be proud to serve as a teacher in this school in order to create a generation of valuable subjects for the Empire. Bayezid II took Gül Baba at his word and returned to the garden weeks later with the edict which established the Ottoman Imperial School in the grounds next to the rose garden, with Gül Baba as its headmaster. Gül Baba became the first headmaster of Galatasaray and administered the school for many years. He died during the Ottoman raid on Hungary and his tomb is located in Budapest.

Second logo of GSL

When the Ottoman army went to war, dervishes and minstrels accompanied it to provide prayers and entertainment but also armed themselves and joined in the fighting when necessary. Gül Baba was one of these dervishes.

Interim period (1830–1868)


Galata Palace Imperial School remained open until the 1830s, when the Tanzimat movement for reform and reorganisation drastically altered the Ottoman Empire's old establishment. Sultan Mahmud II (1808–1839) replaced the Imperial School with the Ottoman Medical School, staffed largely by French professors with most courses taught in French. The Medical School was based in the Galatasaray (Galata Palace) buildings for some thirty years.

Modern period (1868–1923)


Sultan Abdülaziz (1861–1876) was the first Ottoman sultan to travel to Europe and, while in France, was impressed by the French educational system. On his return to Istanbul, he announced the Edict on Public Education which established a free compulsory education system for children under twelve. In September 1868, the Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai" (Turkish: Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi) was established based on the lycée model. French was the main language of instruction, and many teachers were European. The students included members of all the religious and ethnic communities of the Ottoman Empire.[citation needed]

From 1868 to 1878, most of the students were non Muslims, many of whom were Bulgarian.[3]

Since this period, the district where the school stands has been known as Galatasaray. In 1905, the Galatasaray Sports Club was founded by Ali Sami Yen and his friends in one of the school's classrooms (Literature 5B).

In 1907 a fire broke out in the school and burnt its wooden buildings to the ground. The library, museum and archive were all lost; only some stones of the external walls survived. The school was briefly relocated to Beylerbeyi but in 1909 the students were able to return to a new stone building on the site.[4]

Establishment of the Republic of Turkey to Integrated Education System (1923–1992)


With the abolition of the Ottoman Empire and the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the school's name was changed to Galatasaray Lisesi (Galatasaray High School or Lycée de Galatasaray). Instruction was conducted in Turkish and French, and the school was composed of an Elementary School (five years) and a Lycée (seven years) where French Language and Literature, Philosophy, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, English and German were taught selectively in the last four years.

The school became co-educational in 1965, and female students now constitute at least 40% of the school's pupils.

One of the main buildings of the Feriye Palace on the Bosphorus, in the Ortaköy district, was given to the school when it needed to expand.

Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, visited Galatasaray three times: on December 2, 1930; January 28, 1932; and July 1, 1933.

Integrated Education System (1992–present)


In the 1990s, Galatasaray High School entered another period of transformation. The signing of the Turkish-French Bilateral Agreement of 1992 led to the foundation of Galatasaray University which essentially grew out of the Lycée. With the addition of a new primary education school, the three units emerged as autonomous components of an integrated education system under the aegis of the university.

Admission to the High School (or Lycée) is by selective examinations and about one hundred children a year are admitted. Many graduates of the High School continue their education at Galatasaray University, where 25 percent of the enrolment quota is reserved for them.

Until 1997, the High School provided eight years of education. After children had completed the five-year compulsory primary school course, they undertook two years of preparatory, three years of junior high, and three years of senior high school education. In the 2003–2004 academic year Galatasaray High School became a five-year senior high school, with the introduction of the eight-year compulsory primary education system in Turkey, including one year of preparation.

Galatasaray has a diverse student body, with students coming from every part of the country. The current curriculum consists of a blend of Turkish and French curricula, plus a number of additional language courses and elective subjects. Courses on Turkish literature, geography, history, ethics, and art are taught in Turkish, while French Literature, philosophy, sociology, mathematics, and science courses use French as the language of instruction. In addition, English is taught in the primary school from the sixth grade, while Italian and Latin are taught in the high school. There is also some exposure to Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and Arabic through literature and religion classes, as well as Greek through French classes.

The students set up an English Club in 1997, which also started to participate in the Harvard Model United Nations Conferences and the European Youth Parliament's International Sessions and other events through the year. The school itself started to organize its own Model United Nations conference, albeit the club itself is closed indefinitely.

The Lycée de Galatasaray diploma is equivalent to the French Baccalaureate, and graduates of Galatasaray are admitted to universities in France without further examinations.



The school years break down as follows:

French Prep (one year)

Lyceum (four years) — admission through the Secondary Education Institutions Entrance Exam (LGS)

University (four years) — admission through the National University Entrance Exam (YKS)

In 2003, an eight-year primary school system (which integrated the previous five years of elementary school and three years of junior high under a single body) was introduced. Under this new system, the one year prep and four-year junior high education were transitioned into the primary school.

Galatasaray sports


Galatasaray clubs

  • GSL Biology Club
  • GSL Soccer (both Men's and Women's)
  • GSL Rugby Club
  • GSL English Club (closed indefinitely)
  • GSL Music and Polyphonic Choir Club
  • GSL Intelligence Games Club
  • GSL Press Club
  • GSL Culture and Literature Club
  • GSL Theatre Club
  • GSL Arts Club
  • GSL Art History Club
  • GSL Social Sciences Society
  • GSL Folklore Club
  • GSL French Club
  • GSL Travel Club
  • GSL Gastronomy Club
  • GSL Sports Club
  • GSL Mathematics, Science & Technology Club
  • GSL Sport Management & Analysis Club
  • GSL Photography Club
  • GSL English Drama Club
  • GSL Tango Club
  • GSL Civil Protection Club
  • GSL Cinema Club
  • GSL Natural Sports Club
  • GSL Philosophy Club
  • GSL Permaculture Club
  • GSL Animal Welfare and Ecology Club
  • GSL Computer Club
  • GSL Robotics Club - #9020 FRC Team
  • GSL Terimistic Thought Club
  • GSL Chess Club
  • GSL Board Games Club

Notable alumni


Grand viziers and prime ministers

  • Suat Hayri Ürgüplü (1903–81), Minister of Customs and Monopoly, Prime Minister
  • Nihat Erim (1912–1980), Minister of Construction, Prime Minister
  • Ahmet Rıza (1858–1930), President of the Chamber of Deputies and Senate

Foreign kings, presidents and prime ministers

Yitzhak Ben-Zvi



Ministers of foreign countries




Notable diplomats


Below are the names of Galatasaray alumni, who represented the Republic of Turkey as ambassadors to the United States, Canada, the United Nations and other countries.

United States:


United Nations:



Nikola Milev

Famous writers and poets


Other notable alumni


Notable former staff


See also



  2. ^ Mercan, Meral (2018). "GALATASARAY LİSESİ | GALATASARAY HIGH SCHOOL | LYCEE GALATASARAY | 1481 - 1868 - 1923 | School Profile | Class of 2018-2019" (PDF). GALATASARAY LİSESİ. Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 January 2023.
  3. ^ Strauss, Johann. "Language and power in the late Ottoman Empire" (Chapter 7). In: Murphey, Rhoads (editor). Imperial Lineages and Legacies in the Eastern Mediterranean: Recording the Imprint of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Rule (Volume 18 of Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Studies). Routledge, 7 July 2016. ISBN 1317118448, 9781317118442. Google Books PT195.
  4. ^ "GALATASARAY LISESI". Retrieved 2022-11-07.
  5. ^ "Bayur, Yusuf Hikmet". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  6. ^ "Ünlü Türk denizci Sadun Boro hayatını kaybetti". Milliyet (in Turkish). 2015-06-05. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
  7. ^ Strauss, Johann (2010). "A Constitution for a Multilingual Empire: Translations of the Kanun-ı Esasi and Other Official Texts into Minority Languages". In Herzog, Christoph; Malek Sharif (eds.). The First Ottoman Experiment in Democracy. Wurzburg. pp. 21–51.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link) (info page on book at Martin Luther University) - Cited: p. 32 (PDF p. 34)

Further reading