Maiden's Tower - Kiz Kulesi, Istanbul
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.
Kiz Kulesi or Maiden's Tower is one of the landmarks of Istanbul. The Kiz Kulesi was built by Ibrahim Pasa in 1719 over the remains of a fortress built by Mehmet the Conqueror.
Legend says that a sultan's daughter was locked in this 12th-century island tower in the Bosporus near the Asian side to protect her from a prediction that she would die of a snake bite.
Now the tower is used as a panoramic restaurant.
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.
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.
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...
The ferry to Uskudar sails just North of this former defense point. A chain could be stretched from here to the European side of the Bosphorus making it impassable to enemy ships. Another chain was also used across the Bosphorus further north to block that end. A boat can take you out to the island which now holds a restaurant for about 2 dollars. Other than that there is not much of interest to be found on the island itself. I found it better to walk south from Uskudar and then relax on the Asian shore with a good view of the tower, skyline, and passing ships while sipping a tea.
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.
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.
The varios stories about the Maidens Tower:
Built on the rocks of the asian shore at the mouth of the Bosphorus Strait, hundereds of ships, ferries and motor boats sail past the Maiden's Tower every day.For centuries its light has illuminated the darkness, giving sailors a landmark by which to navigate.That light has become part of a story or perhaps real in the distant past.A young man fell in love with a girl who was living in the tower and swam from Galata on the Europian shore each night to keep tryst with her.But one stormy night he is drowned and his body washed up on the rocks at the foot of the towerThis story is one of several based on that of Hero and Leander.
Having set the record straight, here is the original version of Hero and Leander.A young man named Leander living in the city of Abydos on the southern shore of Canakkale Strait fell in love with the beautiful priestess Hero, and she was with him.Since she was forbidden to marry, Leander visited her secretely every night, swimming across the strait from Abydos to Sestos where Hero lived.So that Leander could find his way in the darkness, Hero carried a torch up to the top of the tower where she lived each night and waited until he arrived. But one stormy night torrential rain extinguished the torch in Hero's hand, and unable to find the right direction, Leander was eventually exhausted by the waves and drowned.At down the next morning Hero saw Leander's ragged shirt in the sea and threw herself into the water.So the two lovers were united at last in death.Many myths and legends bear a similiar resemblance to others, the location changing while the story remain the same.
Considered to be symbolic of Istanbul, this tiny tower was established on a small island at the entrance of the Bosphorus. In the past, it was used as a watchtower and a lighthouse, until its present purpose of a tourist attraction. Western sources describe this as Leander’s Tower, who was drowned while swimming, to reach his lover Hera. Another story suggests that it was a tower where an emperor’s daughter put her there for security, having dreamt that she would be bitten by a snake.
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's landed (!!!) on Marmara Sea. It has been restorated few years ago.. I remember that there was a competition about lightning of the tower also.. And almost 1 month we watched the tower with amazing lights.. Aaaaaaaaaahhh Istanbul...
Inside the tower you can find an elegant restaurant and cafe-bar.. There are tours for the tower.. Suggestion: Do not miss it.. ;)
Istanbul's city pictures almost always include "Kiz Kulesi". "Kiz Kulesi" is called in English Maiden's Tower or Leander's Tower. The Maiden's Tower is located on a small islet at a very short distance from the shores of the district "Uskudar" in the Asian side of the city. It can be seen from Topkapi Palace, Dolmabah?e Palace, Ortakoy distric and many other interesting places of Istanbul.
According to a Turkish legend a princess was locked up in the tower by her father because of a prophecy. The prophecy alerted him saying that his daughter would die by the bite of a snake. The father wanted to protect the princess and put her in the Maiden's tower. Unfortunately at the end of the story, the princess dies by the snake that was brought to the islet in a basket of grapes.
The Leander's Tower is the other name you will come across for the same place. There is a legend which has taken place in the city of Abydos in the straight of Dardanelles but somehow mistakenly related to the Maiden's Tower. Leander tried to see his lover Hero and attempted to cross the straight and drowns.
In the 12th century, the emperor Manuel Comnenus has built a small fortress where the tower is located. He wanted to tie a chain to close the Bosphorus straight. The other end of the chain was tied to Tower of Mangana.
Until today the tower is used as a lighthouse, semaphore station, quarantine, customs control area, and home for retired naval officers. The building that you can see today dates back to 18th century.
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.
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.