Galatasaray High School

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Galatasaray High School
Galatasaray Lisesi
Lycée de Galatasaray

Lyceum Galatasarensis
Galatasaray Lisesi logo.svg
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. Dr. H. Murat Develioğlu
Color(s)Red   Yellow  

Galatasaray High School (Turkish: Galatasaray Lisesi, French: Lycée de Galatasaray), established 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. As one of the most selective schools in the world, it is often compared to the likes of Eton College in England and Lycée Louis-le-Grand in France.[citation needed] As an Anatolian High School, access to the school is open to all students without discrimination, with a high nationwide high school entrance score. This is approximately the top-scoring 0.03% of students across the country. 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 club's 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 close to northern end of 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 Pera (Beyoğlu) and called Galata Sarayı Enderun-u Hümayunu (Galata Palace Imperial School).

Origins (1481–1830)[edit]

First logo of GSL
Entrance of the Galatasaray High School
Historic building of Galatasaray High School

Bayezid II (1447–1512) founded the Galata Sarayı Enderun-u Hümayunu in 1481. Known as the "peaceful Sultan", he revived the city of Constantinople (as Istanbul was known in English at the time and until 1930) 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) of the Bektashi Order. 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 in Budapest.

Second logo of GSL

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.

Interim period (1830–1868)[edit]

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)[edit]

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 Constantinople, 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.[citation needed] The Ottoman Turkish name was "The Imperial School" or Mekteb-i Sulṭānī.[1]

In the early portion of the modern period, beginning in 1868 and until 1878, most of the students were of religions other than Islam. At the time many of the students were Bulgarian.[2]

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)[edit]

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)[edit]

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. T Galatasaray admits about one hundred children a year. Many graduates of the High School continue their education at Galatasaray University, where 25 percent of the enrollment quota is reserved for them.

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.


Education is primarily in French and Turkish. English, Italian and Latin 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 Greek through French classes. Students who gain admission to Galatasaray High School through the national examination rank in the top 500 students among approximately a million pupils.

The school years break down as follows:

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.

Galatasaray sports[edit]

Galatasaray extracurricular activities[edit]

  • GSL Biology Club
  • GSL Mathematics Club
  • GSL Rugby Club
  • GSL Music Club
  • GSL Press Club
  • GSL Culture and Literature Club
  • GSL Theatre Club
  • GSL Arts Club
  • GSL Social Sciences Society
  • GSL Folklore Club
  • GSL French Club
  • GSL Travel Club
  • GSL Gastronomy Club
  • GSL Sports Club
  • GSL Science & Technology Club
  • GSL Photography 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
  • GSL Historical Simulation Club
  • GSL Chess Club
  • GSL English Club
  • GSL Anime-Manga Club
  • GSL Board Games Club

Notable alumni[edit]

Grand viziers and prime ministers[edit]

Foreign kings, presidents and prime ministers[edit]


Ministers of foreign countries[edit]


Notable diplomats[edit]

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:



Famous writers and poets[edit]

Other notable alumni[edit]

Notable former staff[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fortna, Ben. Kate Fleet; Gudrun Krämer; Denis Matringe; John Nawas; Everett Rowson (eds.). "Galatasarayı". The Encyclopaedia of Islam. doi:10.1163/1573-3912_ei3_COM_27364. ISBN 9789004282117. - published online in 2015 (2015-2)
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ "Bayur, Yusuf Hikmet". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill. Retrieved 2019-06-02.
  4. ^ "Ünlü Türk denizci Sadun Boro hayatını kaybetti". Milliyet (in Turkish). 2015-06-05. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
  5. ^ 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. (info page on book at Martin Luther University) - Cited: p. 32 (PDF p. 34)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]