The Maiden's Tower (Kiz Kulesi), also known as Leander's Tower (Tower of Leandros) since the medieval Byzantine period, is a tower lying on a small islet located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait 200 m (220 yd) from the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul.
There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location. According to the most popular Turkish legend, a sultan had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The sultan, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.
On the 18th birthday of the princess, the sultan brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.
The older name Leander's Tower comes from another story about a maiden: the ancient Greek myth of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower at Sestos, at the edge of the Hellespont (Dardanelles). Leander (Leandros), a young man from Abydos on the other side of the strait, fell in love with her and would swim every night across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp every night at the top of her tower to guide his way.
Succumbing to Leander's soft words, and to his argument that Aphrodite, as goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to make love to her. This routine lasted through the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light, and Leander lost his way, and was drowned. Hero threw herself from the tower in grief and died as well. The name Maiden's Tower might also have its origins in this ancient story.
The history of the Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi) dates back to around 340 B.C., when the wooden architectural style was first mentioned in some sources. The current stone tower is said to be constructed in the 18th century.
Through the years the 23 m tall tower was used for several puposes: It was a lighthouse, a quarantine station, a tax collection point and a defense tower Nowadays it is used as a luxurious restaurant and café, which can be reached by private boats.
The Maiden’s Tower is situated on a small island near the southern entrance of the Bosphorous Strait. The shortest boat trips to the tower leave from the coast of Üsküdar on the Asian side of Istanbul. The distance from Üskudar is only about 180 metres.
Possibly the first tower here was built in 340 BC. In Ottoman time the stone tower changed the wooden one in 1719. In different times it was used differently: in Greek times it is hard to say about its functions, but later it was as a tax collection area, defensive tower, light house.
Nowadays it is famous restaurant, where you could get with local Istanbul ferries.
I have seen this object from bank of Bosporus, later - when taking ferry to Buyukada island.
Maiden's Tower (Kiz Kulesi) was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottoman Turks, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. This tower is on a little island very close to Salacak - Usküdar. It is a part of famous Istanbul Silhoutte and it catches everyone's eyes passing Bosphorus by boat. Galata Tower represents the man and Leandro Tower represents the girl where two lovers cannot reach each other. As you will observe, both towers can be seen from each other, but the sea seperates them. It has been renovated several years ago and now a restaurant is also available for romantic dinners. Boats work regularly for people going and returning to Kiz Kulesi. It is worth watching the panaroma from the tower.
Maiden's Tower (Kiz Kulesi in turkish) is a small islet strategically located at the beginning of Bosphorus, near Marmara Sea.
The greek general Alcibiades built the tower in 408BC (the tower was between Byzantion and Chrysopolis) to check the movement of the Persian ships but the tower enlarged/restored many times from Byzantine emperors and the ottoman Turks.
Obviously it used as a watchtower but in our days (opened to the public in 2000) you can visit it and enjoy the view of Istanbul from there (it’s always on my list but we skip it every time). There is a café and a restaurant inside.
Many guide books have funny legends about the tower, the most popular is the one that talks about a sultan that heard an oracle’s prophecy that his beloved daughter would be killed by a snake when she turns 18. So, the sultan built the tower to protect her. On her 18th birthday the sultan brought her some exotic fruits but there was an asp(Egyptian venomous snake) inside the basket that bit her(hence the name of the tower).
In Greece we always teached about another legend that suites better to the old name of the tower which was Leandros’ Tower. Leandros (a young man from Abydos) felt in love with Hero(priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower at Sestos, near Hellespont) and he was swimming every night across Hellespont(the strait that connects Aegean sea and Marmara sea). Hero was lighting the tower so Leandros to find his way to her. It was easy during the summer but winter was way more difficult, the breeze blew out the light and Leandros lost his way and drowned.
By the way the tower can be seen at James Bond film “The World Is Not Enough” (it was filmed before the tower was opened to the public)
It happened several times with James Bond movies: scenes being filmed in sites that were not yet open to the public, or not yet in use. The Maiden Tower of Istanbul is one of such locations, as it featured in the 1999 movie The World Is not Enough, while it was still undergoing restoration before opening to the public in 2000.
This tower was reconstructed several times, because buildings don’t last forever, but the place where the very first tower was built, an islet situated where the Marmara Sea ends and the Bosphorus begins, remained for centuries a strategic point for guarding the Bosphorus.
The main reason for visiting the Maiden Tower is the great view one can have from there. It used to be a watchtower for the strait, but now it is the ideal place for watching Istanbul.
Another of Istanbul's famous sights, the Maiden's Tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. Back then the tower was located between the ancient cities of Byzantion and Chrysopolis. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottoman Turks, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. The most recent facelift was made in 1998.
The structure was named Arcla, meaning "Small Tower". It was used for defence purposes during the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, and during the Ottoman period, it was used rather as a show platform, than a defence tower. Furthermore, it acted as a lighthouse but burnt down with the fire from the light, in 1719, and was repaired again in 1725 by the Head Architect of the city, Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasha. It was converted into a quarantine hospital in order for the cholera epidemic not to spread to the city in 1830. An epigraph bearing the signature of Sultan Mahmut II was placed on the marble above the gate, with the handwriting of the famous calligrapher Rakim. In 1857, a light was added again, and in 1920, an automatic system was introduced as the light of the lighthouse.
It featured in the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough where 'M' is imprisoned.
The Maiden's Tower also known in the ancient Greek and medieval Byzantine periods as Leander's Tower, sits on a small islet located in the Bosphorus strait off the coast of Üsküdar.
There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location. Today, there is a restaurant in the first floor and a café at the top of the tower.
You can watch my 2 min 05 sec HQ Video Istanbul Bosporus part III Maiden's Tower out of my Youtube channel with Urfa turkusu - Hannah Berger Dilber - Turkish folk music.
Kiz Kulesi, also known as Maiden's Tower, is a tower located on a small island at the entrance to the Bosphorus. There were many previous towers built on this same island in Byzantine times, as well as after the Ottomans assumed control over the area. During the 12th century, the Byzantines had chains strung from the tower to the wall of Constantinople to prevent any boats from passing through the Bosphorus without their consent. Using chains to block the strait was actually a common practice along the Bosphorus throughout history among various controlling powers. The Turks used the towers they built here for several purposes, including a lighthouse, a prison, and quarantine station. The present tower here dates back to the early 18th century, with many repairs and renovations performed on it since. There are many ferry boat trips available to the island to visit the tower, which now has a cafe to dine at while on the island.
Kiz Kulesi (Maiden's Tower) is the romantic symbol of Istanbul, built on an island on Bosphorus between European and Asian sides. it's history dates back 2500 years and witnessed Ancient Greek period, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. In Ottoman times the building was used to perform Janissary song after the conquest of Istanbul, was damaged by 1509 earthquake and lately reconstructed, after Tower had been burnt in 1799 and restored again. The idea of using it as a lighting house came around 1920's. Restored again in 1944 and used as radar station since 1959. Only after restauration in 2000 it was opened to public visits for the first time. But here is finally the romantic part: there are few legends, very sad but poetic. First one is Greek legend about Hero (virgin priestess of Aphrodite, living in a tower) falling in love with certain Leander. Of course she was forbidden to marry, and L.was visiting ger secretely every night swimming till Tower. She was lighting a torch on the top to show him the way to her. But one stormy night rain extinguished the torch...and that night L.couldnt find the way till his belowed and drowned. Next morning H.found in the water his shirt and drowned herself. Two lovers were finally united in death...Another turkish legend is about a princess, living in the Tower because her father wanted to protect her from the prophecy thet she would die from a bite of a serpent. However the princess was bitten by the serpent coming from one of baskets containing food...
Now Maiden's Tower is open to public every day and there is regular boat trips till there. I've been on the top of it on the rainy day and even this day the view over the city was breathtaking, it was just nice sitting on the top, drinking cognac and thinking about all these legends...
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