As the name reveals, SALT Galata is located near the Galata Tower. Its exact location is in the old headquarters of Ottoman Bank, the central bank of the Ottoman Empire. SALT Galata serves students in terms of studying, researchers for research, and tourists to explore. The majority who pass through the doors are students from Istanbul University and other local universities. As an exchange student, your friend informed you that SALT Galata is one of the best places a student can study, the other being Beyazit State Library on the other side of Galata Bridge. This Saturday, you decide to give it a try.
You arrive at the front of SALT Galata, noticing some resembles to the old Ottoman Bank. They did a great job renovating outside, but let’s see if that statement remains from the inside.
SALT Galata’s Grand Entrance
There are three steps that you take to reach the main doors. Passing by them, another set of doors come between you and the inside of SALT Galata. You pass by those doors and find two metal detectors, about five steps ahead. You turn left and notice a small office with two security guards talking among themselves. You pass through the metal detector.
Beep, the metal detector yells. A security guard gestures towards you to pass. You turn forward, and pause a moment, soaking in the atmosphere.
SALT Galata is giving you a great first impression so far. There are marble stairs ahead, with less than a dozen steps. You slowly go up, admiring the marble and the beautiful architecture of the ceiling. As you reached the top, you notice a quiet atmosphere encompassing SALT Galata. You hear some whispers, attracting your attention to the left side. Two students exit a large room, whispers contained between them. They hold their backpacks tightly. As they pass by you, a strong scent of perfume slips into your nostrils. The two girls walk down the same marble steps you took, heading for the exit.
The room they came out from has glass doors, and more metal detectors. You give it a short glance, noticing its darker atmosphere compared to the main hall, a few students and some bookshelves. Your attention quickly redirects. On the right side, another marble stairs. A group of three guys are heading down. None of them are have any backpacks, but all three are dressed very well, as if they had just left a photoshoot. Your eyes shift to the top of the stairs, but as they curve around to another set of stairs, your vision is restricted from what lies a floor above you.
You continue walking down the hall; your exploration for the second floor will have to wait. Walking ahead, you find a small desk hiding under the stairs. Upon looking closely, you realized its an information desk with an employee sitting behind it — their eyes staring at the computer. You continue down the main hall, an elegant elevator made of glass lies on your left side. Further down the hall, there is an alley on your right, with a bathroom sign and an arrow pointed deeper inside the alley. Reaching the end of the hall, there’s a large open space.
Pausing for a moment, your eyes survey the area. They stare straight ahead, at a glass panel extending from the ground to the ceiling. It gives the view of everything south of Galata Tower—Galata Bridge, Karakoy, and the river.
Your eyes move on to the next section: the coffee shops. They’re lined up, one after another against the wall near the glass panel. Like with every food court, there are tables occupying the main floor. All the tables are occupied. There are students studying alone with headphones on, studying in groups (whispering among each other), and groups of two — drinking coffee.
A very ambient atmosphere, but it wasn’t the reason you came to SALT Galata. You turned around and head up the marble stairs you saw earlier, leading to the second floor.
The Famous Opening
Your hand runs on the marble railing as your eyes wander above, pondering over the gems above. Turning around to the second set of stairs, you’re given a glimpse of what lies above. More hallways and a white door. It’s not a typical door, this one is designed with appeal and seems to be made of wood.
Upon reaching the top, your attention moves to the right side. Only a boring wall is on the left side, and ahead of you, the door your eyes inspect while heading up the marble stairs. You move to the right, noticing more doors, about a dozen young adults, and the main attraction—a square hole in the floor.
You walk towards the opening, as you pick up on more commotion from the photographers. The young adults are posing near the railing that keeps people safe from the opening.
Not the best place to pose, you think. I guess it’s not a bad place either. Your eyes wander over the different objects — the doors, marble pillars, and the opening.
A passage is provided to walk around the opening’s perimeter. You enter the passage, the doors on your right and the opening on the left. The doors are a few meters apart. You try opening one of them, but it’s locked.
Of course, you think. At least an alarm didn’t go off.
You lean your head over the railing, spotting the floor below you. It’s the main study area. Another floor is hidden between the study area and the second floors.
Floor 1.5, you think.
As you’re making your way around the perimeter, your ears pick up on the Turkish language, understanding bits of it, but most of it enters one ear and leaves the other without being processed.
At the end of your perimeter walk, you leave the second floor and decided to get a picture another time. You head down stairs, and enter the room with glass door and metal detectors.
Where Studying and Research Happens
The heart of SALT Galata research, you think standing by the entrance.
You take in the atmosphere around you before proceeding forward. It’s mostly a quiet atmosphere with whispers coming from different directions. On your right side: bookshelves, study tables, small cushion chairs, and a glass elevator. On your left side: more bookshelves, study tables, cushion chairs and instead of an elevator there is a staircase that seems to curves like an L.
Directly in front of you, is the most open space you’ve seen. There are a few tables as well as the main front desk, but not as crowded as the left and right side.
You explore the right side first. The bookshelves and tables are scattered in not particular fashion. It’s like a maze. You curve around bookshelves, and might spot another table. You turn the other side, you may find a cushion with a student relaxing on it, reading a book.
After you find your way back to the center, you enter the left side. Similar to the left side, it’s like a maze of bookshelves and tables with students studying. You find your way to the stairs and head for the second floor. Once you reach the second floor, you figure out that the opening you saw earlier with the student’s taking pictures was actually the third floor of SALT Galata.
The second floor of the study area is the same as the maze-like floor that you just explored. Instead of a front desk and a few tables that the first floor had in its center, the second floor has an opening, revealing the bottom. You move closer to the edge, railing of the opening, and then look up. Marble pillars and the cool design doors are above. You head tilts down, you find the front desk and a few tables.
You walk around, exploring the second floor of the study area. Tables and cushions dominate the second floor. After exploring SALT Galata, you find an empty table and pull out your study material. You dive into studying, with the a perfect ambience around you.