Galatasaray Lycée

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One of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in Turkey.

The Galatasaray Lycée opened in 1481 as a palace school to train young men for service in the Ottoman court or in cavalry regiments. The most accomplished students were selected to continue their education and service at the emperor's Topkapi Palace. As a result of educational reforms on a Western model during the nineteenth century, the Galatasaray buildings were first converted to a medical school, then to a military preparatory school. In 1868, the institution began its modern incarnation as the Imperial Lycée (Mekteb-i Sultani), with support from the French government. Modeled after the grand French lycées (schools), it was designed to offer a European-style secondary education using French as the primary language of instruction. While similar schools in the empire catered to non-Muslim subjects, Galatasaray was open to both Muslim and non-Muslim boys. The school continued to function after the Ottoman Empire became the Turkish Republic, and many of its graduates went on to study at the School of Government (Mekteb-i Mülkiye) and then took up positions in government.

During the 1960s, a primary school was opened on a separate campus to prepare students for the lycée. The admission of girls began in 1965, and by the late 1990s the student body was approximately 40 percent female. English language instruction was offered starting in 1990, bringing to three the number of languages used in the school. In 1992, during a visit by French president François Mitterrand to Turkey, it was announced that the school would be reorganized as the Galatasaray Educational Institution and that it would also become an institution of higher education. Accordingly, Galatasaray University was founded in 1994, with faculties of law, engineering and technology, administration, communication, and arts and sciences. Because the institution historically has attracted an ambitious and able body of students, the Galatasaray has been an important factor in the history of the Ottoman Empire, its successor states, and modern Turkey. Galatasaray graduates include many prominent political leaders, diplomats, government officials, artists, writers, and educators.

See also Ottoman Empire.


Galatasaray Alumni Association of U.S.A. "The History of Galatasaray." Available at <>

Kuran, E. "Ghalata-Sarayi," In Encyclopedia of Islam, new edition, edited by B. Lewis, C. Pellat, and J. Schacht. Leiden: Brill, 1965.

I. metin Kunt

Updated by Anthony B. Toth