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Mekteb-i Sultani

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Mekteb-i Sultani

For other uses of Galatasaray, see Galatasaray (disambiguation).
Galatasaray High School
Lycée de Galatasaray
Galatasaray Lisesi
Galatasaray High School
Galatasaray Square
Istanbul, Beyoğlu, Turkiye
Coordinates 01|58|N|28|58|43|E|region:TR-34_type:edu name=


School type Public, Boarding
Founded 1481
Founder Bayezid II
Principal Meral Mercan
Mascot Lion

Galatasaray High School (Turkish: Galatasaray Lisesi, French: Lycée de Galatasaray) is one of the most influential high schools of modern Turkey. Established in 1481, it is the oldest Turkish high school in the world 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. Galatasaray S.K., which would go on to win the UEFA Cup in football in the year 2000, was formed in this institution with initial players all being members of the school. Galatasaray High School is one of the most important members of Galatasaray Community as Galatasaray University and Galatasaray Sports Club.

The name Galatasaray means Galata Palace, as the school is located near Galata, the medieval Genoese citadel at the north of the Golden Horn. Since the 19th century, the name "Pera" refers to the larger 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.

The admission to the Lycée is by selective exams. Turkish primary school graduates take a very competitive centralized exam if they wish to be enrolled in a limited number of elite public high schools. Galatasaray admits 100 students from the top 500 of about 1,000,000 candidates. Galatasaray primary education school graduates are admitted to the Lycée, subject to examination. Lycée graduates may continue their higher education in Galatasaray University, where 25 percent of the enrollment quota is reserved for them, but are also subject to examination.

Until 1997, Lycée de Galatasaray was an 8-year school, which, for graduates of the 5-year compulsory primary school, involved 2 years of preparatory, 3 years of junior high, and 3 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 and elective courses. Courses on Turkish literature, geography, history, ethics, and art are taught in Turkish. 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 sixth grad ande on, while Italian and Latin are taught in the Lycée 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 during the last 80 years 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, painters and many other professionals.

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.

Galatasaray sports

Galatasaray extracurricular activities

  • 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 Civil Protection Club
  • GSL Cinema Club
  • GSL Natural Sports Club
  • GSL Philosophy Club
  • GSL Ecology Club
  • GSL Computer Club
  • GSL Robotics Club
  • GSL Chess Club
  • GSL English Club
  • GSL Anime-Manga Club
  • GSL Board Games Club

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.

Galatasaray traditions

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
  • Keçecizade Fuat 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


  • 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


  • 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:


United Nations:


  • Daniş Tunalıgil (GS. 1933) –1975


  • 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

Other notable alumni

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".

Global alumni Aassociations of Galatasaraylıs

  • Galatasaraylılar Derneği [1]
  • Galatasaray Eğitim Vakfı [2]
  • Galatasaray İşbirliği Kurulu [3]
  • Galatasaray Spor Kulübü [4]
  • Ankara Galatasaraylılar Birliği [5]
  • Bursa Galatasaray Liseliler Derneği [6]
  • Amicale de Galatasaray in France [7]
  • Alumni of Galatasaray in USA [8]
  • Les Anciens de Galatasaray en Belgique [9]
  • Galatasaray Üniversitesi Mezunları Derneği [10]
  • Galatasaray Lisesi Chat Grubu [11]
  • Cimbom France [12]

Galatasaray alumni groups by year

  • 97th term graduates website [13]
  • 106th term graduates website [14]
  • 108th term graduates website [15]
  • 109th term graduates website [16]
  • 110th term graduates website [17]
  • 112th term graduates website [18]
  • 113th term graduates website [19]
  • 115th term graduates website [20]
  • 116th term graduates website [21]
  • 120th term graduates website [22]
  • 121st term graduates website [23]
  • 123rd term graduates website [24]
  • 127th term graduates website [25]
  • 137th term graduates website [26]
  • 138th term graduates website [27]
  • 139th term website [28]
  • 141st term website [29]
  • 144th term website [30]
  • 145th term website [31]

See also

External links

  • Galatasaray High School
  • Galatasaray University
  • Galatasaray Elementary School
  • Another website about Galatasaray
  • Mekteb-i Sultani 1481–1868
  • 360° Galatasaray Virtual Tours


  • History of the school from the official school webpage, for the period between 1481 and 1868. Accessed September 25, 2008 (in Turkish).
  • History of the school from the official school webpage, for the period between 1868 and 1923. Accessed September 25, 2008 (in Turkish).
  • Turkish War of Independence. Accessed September 25, 2008 (in Turkish).
  • A documentary about the school, served through their official webpage. Accessed September 25, 2008.

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