Properties of GaN layers grown by metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) on c-plane of sapphire have been investigated using atomic force microscopy (AFM), wet etching for defect investigation, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), high-resolution X-ray diffraction, Hall effect measurements and low-temperature photoluminescence (PL). Tapping-mode AFM images of the as-grown samples showed atomically smooth surfaces (rms roughness ≍ 0.2 nm) consisting of terraces separated by about 3Å bi-layer steps. Hot H3PO4 chemical etching was used to produce hexagonal-shaped etch pits at the surface defect sites as revealed by AFM imaging. The obtained etch pit densities (9×108 - 2 ×109 cm−2) were in agreement with the dislocation density found by plan-view and cross-sectional TEM observations. The full-width at half-maximum (FWHM) of the X-ray diffraction rocking curve was about 4.8 and 3.9 arcmin for the symmetric (002) and asymmetric (104) directions, respectively. PL spectrum at 15 K demonstrated sharp peaks (FWHM ≍ 4 meV) in the excitonic region, which were attributed to free and bound excitons. The spectrum contained also weak PL bands with maxima at about 2.2, 2.9 and 3.27 eV, which have been attributed to three different acceptors.