Harman Patil (Editor)

Galatasaray High School

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School type
Public, Boarding

School color(s)
Red and yellow

Bayezid II


Meral Mercan


+90 212 249 11 00

Funding type
State school

Galatasaray High School

Kuloğlu Mahallesi, İstiklal Cd. No:159, 34430 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Turkey

1481, Beyoğlu, Istanbul, Turkey

Kabataş Erkek Lisesi, Istanbul High School, Galatasar University, Özel Üsküdar Amerikan, Özel St Georg Avusturya


Galatasaray galatasaray high school

Galatasaray High School (Turkish: Galatasaray Lisesi, French: Lycée de Galatasaray) is one of the most influential high schools in modern Turkey. Established in 1481, it is the oldest high school in Turkey and the second-oldest Turkish educational institution after Istanbul University which was established in 1453. Being an Anatolian High School, access to the school is open to students with a high Nationwide High School Entrance score. Education consists of a blend of Turkish and French curricula and is provided in both languages.


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

The name Galatasaray means Galata Palace, as the school is located near Galata, the medieval Genoese citadel at the north of the Golden Horn, in the district of Beyoğlu which includes the Galata quarter.


The history of Galatasaray High School dates back to 1481. The high school was first built in Beyoğlu and called Galata Sarayı Enderun-u Hümayunu (Galata Palace Imperial School).

Origins (1481–1830)

Bayezid II (1447–1512) founded the Galata Sarayı Enderun-u Hümayunu in 1481. Known as the "peaceful Sultan", he revived the city of Istanbul after the conquest of 1453. Bayezid II often roamed the city, disguised as an ordinary citizen. Legend has it that on one of these rambles, he found a garden near Galata filled with beautiful red and yellow roses. In this garden, he met Gül Baba (Father Rose). The Sultan asked the wise man about how to improve the Empire and the city as they filled with a range of immigrants. Gül Baba explained that he was happy with the city, his rose garden and the reign of the Sultan, but he would be much happier if there were a school which would educate all 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 to 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, on 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 to Hungary and his tomb is located near Budapest.

When the Ottoman army went to war, dervishes and minstrels accompanied it to provide religious prayers and entertainment. Dervishes and minstrels also armed themselves and joined the fighting whenever necessary. Gül Baba was one of these dervishes. Janissaries were fond of the dervishes of the Bektashi Order, since they regarded Haji Bektash as their convent's chief.

German historian Theodor Menzel suggests that Gül Baba's name was a nickname, as "rose" was the sign of being a leader of the Bektashi lodge.

Interim period (1830–1868)

Galata Palace Imperial School remained open until the 1830s, when the movement of reform and reorganization abolished 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 at the Galata Palace buildings for some thirty years.

Modern period (1868–1923)

Sultan Abdülaziz (1861–1876) was the first Ottoman sultan to travel to Europe. Invited by Napoleon III, in June–July 1867 he attended the World Exhibition in Paris. He then visited Queen Victoria in London, Wilhelm I in Prussia and Franz Joseph I in Vienna. Sultan Abdülaziz was impressed by the French educational system during his visit, and on his return to Istanbul he announced the Edict of Public Education which established a free compulsory education system for all children until they became twelve. In September 1868, influenced by the French Lycée model, a school was established under the name "Lycée Impérial Ottoman de Galata-Sérai" (Galatasaray Mekteb-i Sultanisi). French was the main language of instruction, and many teachers were European. The students included members of all religious and ethnic communities of the Ottoman Empire.

Many students who attended the school during this 55-year period became prominent statesmen, educators, bureaucrats or writers in nation-states that were once a part of the Ottoman Empire. Some even served as the first statesmen in their newly established countries in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.

The influence of Galatasaray on modern Turkey has been enormous. As the need for administrators, diplomats, and other leaders with a modern education and capacity to handle Western administrative apparatus became more and more pressing, the graduates of Galatasaray filled these roles in the politics of the Ottoman Empire and then the Republic of Turkey.

Lycée de Galatasaray, with its contributions to the Westernization of the "East", came to be considered the "Window to the West".

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

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 name of the school was changed to "Galatasaray Lisesi" (Lycée de Galatasaray).

Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, visited Galatasaray 3 times: on December 2, 1930; January 28, 1932; and July 1, 1933.

Instruction was conducted in Turkish and French, and the school was composed of an Elementary School (5 years) and a Lycée (7 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 also given to Galatasaray when it needed more room for expansion.

Integrated Education System (1992–present)

In the 1990s, Galatasaray 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. Turkish children leaving primary schools can take a competitive centralized exam, if they wish to be enrolled in a limited number of elite public high schools, and there are about 1,000,000 such candidates every year. Galatasaray admits about one hundred children a year from the top five hundred. Many graduates of the High School continue their education at Galatasaray University, where 25 percent of the enrollment quota is reserved for them, but they are also subject to an entrance examination.

Until 1997, the high school, or Lycée de Galatasaray, was an 8-year school. After children had completed the 5-year compulsory primary school course, they then had two years of preparatory, three years of junior high, and three years of senior high school education. In the 2003–2004 academic year Galatasaray became a 5-year senior high school, with the introduction of the 8-year compulsory primary education system in Turkey, including one year prep.

Galatasaray, being a boarding school, has a diverse student body, with boys and girls 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 schools from the sixth grade and up, while Italian and Latin are taught in the high school grades.

The students set up an English Club in 1997, which regularly participates in the Harvard Model United Nations Conferences and European Youth Parliament's International Sessions and other events throughout the year.

The Lycée de Galatasaray diploma is equivalent to the French Baccalaureate, and graduates of Galatasaray are admitted to universities in France without further examinations. Moreover, they have no difficulty in enrolling in the best universities in Turkey and abroad. After obtaining their University degrees, many of these students join the Civil and Diplomatic Services, which befits the Enderun and later Imperial school traditions.

Graduates of this school since 1930 have included two Prime Ministers, eight Foreign Affairs Ministers, and scores of cabinet Ministers and Undersecretaries. Apart from these, the alumni of this institution have become academicians, judges, educators, writers, doctors, architects, engineers, journalists, artists, film directors, poets, and painters, and have entered other professions.

Many Galatasaray alumni have joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They constitute an important body in the Diplomatic Corps, and the number of those who have reached the Ambassadorial rank exceeds one hundred.

Today, Lycée de Galatasaray graduates continue to occupy high-ranking political, industrial and business positions within and outside Turkey. They are represented by 17 Alumni Associations, 9 in Turkey, and 8 in Europe, North America and South Africa.


Education is primarily in French and Turkish. English and Italian are also taught as second languages. There is also a slight exposure to Ottoman Turkish, Persian, and Arabic through literature and religion classes, as well as Latin and Greek through French classes.

The school years break down as follows:

Elementary School (8 years) — admission through a lottery. French Prep (1 year) Lyceum (4 years) — admission through the Secondary Education Institutions Entrance Exam (OKS) French Prep (1 year) University (4 years) — admission through the National University Entrance Exam (OSS)

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 added in. With this new system, the one year prep and four year junior high education were transitioned into the primary school.

GSL English Club

Founded by students Onur Günday, Emir Kısagün and Mustafa Yazıcı in 1996, the club's goal was to create real-life activities for students to practice English. Thanks to the GSL English Club, in 1997, Galatasaray became the first high school whose primary language of education was not English to become accepted by the Harvard National Model United Nations Conference. In May 1999, under the presidency of Anil Ugurlu, the English Club also published the first English language school magazine in Galatasaray's history. The magazine, named Third Dimension, expressed the importance of a third language in the school. The creation of the English Club and the publication of Third Dimension were considered revolutionary in a traditionally Francophone school, where the influence of globalization and importance of English had finally expressed itself with the creation of the club.

Another thing which makes the English Club unique is that it's a uniquely student-managed and alumni-funded club; the members are responsible for funding the Harvard MUN Conference through the donations they gather from the alumni. Since 1997, the GSL English Club has sent an increasing number of students to the HMUN conference.

Fraternity: Ağabey-Abla tradition

At Galatasaray there is a tradition of respecting the elder brothers and sisters. The elders protect the younger brothers/sisters while the younger ones respect the elders, creating a relationship of fraternal hierarchy and ranks among the student body. After graduation, this fraternity continues regardless of age, status or geographic location.

Being the Window to the West

Lycée de Galatasaray, with its contributions to the Westernization of the "East", came to be considered the "Window to the West".

Galatasaray alumni

During 80 years of the Republican Period, there were two prime ministers, eight foreign ministers, scores of other cabinet ministers and undersecretaries in the state administration. Apart from these, many academicians, judges, educators, writers, doctors, architects, engineers, journalists, artists, stage artists, film directors, poets, painters etc. constitute the alumni of this institution.

Grand viziers and prime ministers

  • Çorlulu Ali Paşa, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
  • Melek Ahmet Paşa, Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
  • Suat Hayri Ürgüplü, Prime Minister of Turkey
  • Nihat Erim, Prime Minister of Turkey
  • Foreign kings, presidents and prime ministers

  • King Zog of Albania (1928–1939)
  • Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1884–1963), historian, Labor Zionist leader, and 2nd President of Israel
  • Mehmet Ali El-Abid, President of Syria (1932) and Ambassador of Syria to the United States in Washington D.C. (1890 graduate)
  • Suphi Bereket, Prime Minister of Syria
  • Ministers

  • Mehmet Sait Paşa, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
  • Abdurrahman Abdi Paşa, Vizier of the Ottoman Empire
  • Mahmut Muhtar Paşa, Minister of Navy of the Ottoman Empire (1886 graduate)
  • Keçecizade Fuat Paşa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Ottoman Empire
  • Selim Melhame Paşa, Minister of Agriculture of the Ottoman Empire (1895-1908)
  • Abdurrahman Şeref, Minister of Education of the Ottoman Empire
  • Osman Nizami Paşa, Minister of Construction of the Ottoman Empire (1876 graduate)
  • Şemsettin Paşa, Minister of Documents of the Ottoman Empire (1878 graduate)
  • Mustafa Reşit Paşa, Minister of the Ottoman Empire between 1912 and 1920
  • Ali Paşa
  • Dr. Cemil Topuzlu, Minister of Construction of the Ottoman Empire
  • Sabahattin Tanman, Minister of Customs and Monopoly of the Ottoman Empire
  • Prof. Yusuf Hikmet Bayur, Minister of Education of the Ottoman Empire (1909 graduate)
  • Necmeddin Sadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs (1910 graduate)
  • İ. Hakkı Baban, Minister of Education
  • Hamdullah Suphi Tanrıöver, Minister of Education
  • Şükrü Kaya, Minister of Agriculture, Interior and Foreign Affairs
  • Hikmet Bayur, Minister of Education
  • Feridun Cemal Erkin, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Suat Hayri Ürgüplü, Minister of Customs and Monopoly
  • Fatin Rüştü Zorlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Kasım Gülek, Minister of Construction, Transport and State
  • Cihad Baban, Minister of Culture and Tourism
  • Prof. Dr. Nihat Erim, Minister of Construction, Deputy Prime Minister
  • Turan Güneş, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Orhan Eyüpoğlu, Minister of State
  • Prof. Dr. Orhan Dikmen, Minister of Agriculture
  • Mehmet Baydur, Minister of Trade
  • Malik Yolaç, Minister of Youth and Sports
  • Necmettin Cevheri, Minister of State
  • İlter Türkmen, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Prof. Dr. Turhan Feyzioğlu, Deputy Prime Minister
  • Şahap Kocatopçu, Minister of Industry and Trade
  • Hasan Esat Işık, Minister of State, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Ali Tanrıyar, Minister of Interior
  • Mükerrem Taşçıoğlu, Minister of Culture and Tourism
  • Coşkun Kırca, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • İlhan Evliyaoğlu, Minister of Culture and Tourism
  • Prof. Dr. Mümtaz Soysal, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Fikri Sağlar, Minister of Culture
  • Ministers of foreign countries

  • Konstantin Velichkov, Minister of Education of Bulgaria and writer (1874 graduate)
  • Governors

  • Serasker Mehmet Sait Paşa
  • Mar'i Pasha Al Mallah, last Ottoman Interim Governor of the Province of Aleppo, Syria (1876 graduate)
  • 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:

  • Feridun Cemal Erkin (GS. 1920) 1948–1955
  • Şükrü Elekdağ (GS. 1943) 1979–1989
  • Melih Esenbel 1960, 1967-1974, 1975-1979
  • Suat Hayri Ürgüplü (GS. 1924) 1957–1960
  • Canada:

  • Coşkun Kırca (GS. 1945) 1985–1986
  • United Nations:

  • Coşkun Kırca (GS. 1945) 1980–1985
  • İlter Türkmen (GS. 1945) 1975–1980 and 1985–1988
  • Austria:

  • Daniş Tunalıgil (GS. 1933) –1975
  • France:

  • Necdet Kent: Given the title Righteous among the Nations for saving many Jews in the invaded city of Marseille in World War II.
  • Famous writers and poets

  • Tevfik Fikret
  • Ahmet Haşim
  • Nazım Hikmet
  • Other notable alumni

  • Yunus Nadi Abalıoğlu, journalist
  • Daron Acemoglu, economist
  • Engin Ardıç, journalist
  • Bülent Arel, composer
  • Ünal Aysal, 34th president of Galatasaray S.K.
  • Okan Bayülgen, actor and TV show host
  • Mehmet Ali Birand, journalist and TV news anchor
  • Sadun Boro, first Turkish global circumnavigator
  • Jirayr Ohanyan Çakır, President of Turkish Chess Federation
  • Çetin Emeç, journalist
  • Candan Erçetin, pop musician
  • Ulvi Cemal Erkin, composer
  • Feza Gürsey, physicist
  • Abdi İpekçi, journalist
  • Todor Kableshkov, Bulgarian national activist
  • Bahadir Kaleagasi, businessman
  • Fikret Kızılok, musician
  • Barış Manço, musician
  • Stoyan Mihaylovski, Bulgarian writer and politician (1872 graduate)
  • Nikola Milev, Bulgarian historian
  • İlhan Mimaroğlu, composer
  • Simeon Radev, eminent Bulgarian diplomat and historian
  • Süreyya Serdengeçti, economist, former Governor of the Central Bank of Turkey
  • Ferhan Şensoy, writer, comedian, actor, director, theatre owner
  • Turgay Şeren, soccer player, goalkeeper and team captain of Galatasaray S.K. and Turkey
  • Haldun Taner, journalist, writer
  • Metin Toker, journalist, writer
  • İlhan Usmanbaş, composer
  • Galatasaray Alumni Pilav Day

    Galatasaray alumni gather on the grounds of the lycée every year, on the first Sunday of June, to enjoy the traditional Pilav Day, a day of reunion and feast for all Galatasaraylıs, where a special pilav (rice pilaf) and meat is served in the school's cafeterias as in the old school days. Many schools have copied this tradition and now hold their reunions and call them "Pilav Days".


    Galatasaray High School Wikipedia

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