The History of Galatasaray High School

The institution known as Galata Sarayı Humayun Mektebi (Galata Palace Royal School) brought up highly educated superior officials to the Palace. The Palace was then a complex establishment set up in a large garden where the educational units, the library and the treasury were founded.

There, persons knowledgeable in different areas were in service from whom the palace officers and the Sultan himself before anyone could seek advice. The education of those personailites were provided in the Foundation of Galata Serail that continued its function from the end of the 15th century (1481) to the beginnning of the 18th century (1715). 

As reported by Evliya Çelebi , Sultan Bayazid II (1481 - 1512) sees a small, shabby hut in a very large and well maintained garden. Meeting the hut’s owner Gul Baba, the Sultan wants to reward him of the care he gives to the garden and has a school and a hospice built in it.

While the story explains us that the school was founded upon a wish, we know that Mehmet II, the Conqueror of Istanbul researched the older cultures and read classics translated after his instructions in order that the state he would have found in the city carrying the traces of antique culture could be permanent, and that it live a thousand years as Byzantine Empire. One of those classics, the “Republic” of Platon (427 – 347 B.C.) emphasizes that the state could only be run by philosophers. Then how, in the era when the Ottoman Empire started to rise up, could the philosophers to run this state be raised? There was a Palace school, but where would the primary and middle school education of those students be realized? As a result of these remarks, creating the ideal school of his father Mehmet II under the name of "Galata Serail Foundation", Bayazid II. has borught together an important part of the Ottoman palace education.

In the year 1675, the institution gets dismissed for 10 years, and the talented boys of the Foundation are taken to the Palace while the others are sent to the cavalry troops. Reopened in 1715, the Foundation undertakes once again the education of freshmen.

One of the most important institution of the Ottoman Empire, The Galata Serail Madrasa gets used as medicine school and a military base.

Gaining in importance in the following years, the school becomes a symbol of the westernization era and the practices in Tanzimat . There is, in fact, the need to intellectual officers who will put into practice the reforms realized in judicial, political and social spheres and to raise them, an educational institution that will comprehend western programs alongside with the traditional ones. Following this goal, the institution restarts to operate on 1 October 1868 with the name Mekteb-I Sultani (Royal School) with an inauguration ceremony attended by the Sultan Abdulaziz. Thanks to the efforts of the then Paris embassador Cemil Pasha and External Affairs Minister Fuad Pasha, the school instructs students in par with French high school education. Among those students are also those of catholic, orthodox and jewish faiths. Students who can start the school between 9 – 12 years of age takes a prep school of french or turkish depending on their situation. With the new implementations led by the Principal Tevfik Fikret, three-year programs were prepared for primary, middle and high school programs to increase the duration of education to 9 years. On the other hand, while Persian, Arabic, Italian, Latin, Greek, Armenian and German are given the statue of optional courses, piano and violin were added to the curriculum. 

The school took the name of Galatasaray Lisesi (Galatasaray High School) in 1924 and starts to provide education in line with republican revolutions. The humanities starts to be taught in Turkish. In 1965 girl students are accepted to the school. In 1968 French President Charles De Gaulle visits the school for the 100th anniversary of the school. In 1975 the school is named as an Anatolian High School  and the duration is determined to be 8 years. Finally, the Galatasaray Instruction and Education that also comprises elemantary and university education gets enacted with the protocol signed by President of France François Mitterand and 8th President of Turkish Republic Turgut Ozal on 14 April 1992.

The Galatasaray Instruction and Education Institution became Galatasaray University by  the law number 3993 which came to effect by the Official Gazette number 21952 on the date of 6 June 1994. Although the institution took the status of University, it kept its peculiarity of being an integrated instruction and education and th Galatasaray high school and the elementary school in conjunction with it remained educational units attached to the rectorate.