Located in Istanbul, Turkey, Galatasaray is heir to five centuries of uninterrupted education history which started in 1481 with the establishment of an educational institution at the present site of the “Galatasaray High School” for the purpose of preparing young men for high-level public service. The school, originally named “Galata Sarayi Enderun Mektebi” (Galata Palace Imperial School) is one of the oldest establishments of its kind in the world.
After providing valuable services to the Ottoman state for over 350 years, it underwent a modernization process and adopted the French Secondary Education System in 1868. Up till the end of the First World War in 1918, the school welcomed a diverse student body of different religious and ethnic groups constituting the population of the Ottoman Empire, such as Turks, Arabs, Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Levantines, Bulgarians, Albanians. Many of the graduates of this period, coming from various communities, became prominent statesmen, educators, bureaucrats and writers in Turkey as well as in their home countries.
With the proclamation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923, the name was changed to its current name “Galatasaray Lisesi” and it became co-educational in 1965. Ataturk visited the campus twice, showing his special interest, as well as most other Presidents of Turkey,to date. Galatasaray High School has been, since 1992, part of an integrated educational system consisting of the Galatasaray Primary School, Galatasaray High School and the Galatasaray University, creating an active community both inside and outside of Turkey. The influence of the graduates of Galatasaray High School on the rise of modern Turkey has been enormous. In the modern era, as the need for administrators, diplomats, businessmen, scientist and other groups in accordance with Western norms became increasingly important, the graduates of Galatasaray came to play a preponderant role in diverse fields in the Republic of Turkey. The current Principal since eight years, Ms. Meral Mercan, is a graduate of the first co-ed class of Galatasaray High School. In addition to being the first female Principal, she also was the first female Vice Principal in the history of the school. The Principal is automatically a member of the Board of the Galatasaray Sports Club as well as the Galatasaray Educational Foundation.