The Maiden's Tower, symbolic of love and romance, is a famous landmark in Turkey. Featuring in nearly every Turkish picture or work of art, such as its popularity and significance, this place often promotes tourism in Istanbul city. A mystical position and appearance, especially at night when it lights up, deliver an intriguing photo that leaves viewers wanting to know more. Although urban legends often confuse it with the story of Leander, this Byzantine Istanbul landmark of Istanbul's Bosphorus Strait deserves fame and glory in its own right. Should you find yourself in Asian Istanbul, put the Tower on your list of places to see.
The Maidens Tower of Istanbul
History of Maidens Tower
This enormous structure dates from 419 B.C., when Greek Commander Alcibiades instructed the construction of a watchtower. Sentinels stationed at Maidens tower had an almost perfect vision of the Black Sea, making this ideal for watching for trespassers and enemy fleets. During Emperor Komnenos's rule, he instructed Maidens Tower to be converted into a mini fortress. However, historians also say evidence shows it was also a prison.
Then Maidens tower transformed into a lighthouse that collected fares from vessels entering and anchoring on the land. When the Ottomans reached and captured Istanbul in 1453, the Tower was in ruins. They set about renovating and rebuilding it. This wooden structure again caught fire whilst showing the way to passing ships. During Ahmet III's reign in 1719, the Tower was rebuilt out of stone.
Urban Legends and James Bond
Called Kiz Kulesi in Turkish, Maidens Tower sits in the Salacak area of the Asian Uskudar district. Guarding the Bosphorus southern entrance, urban legends say a mystic told a Byzantine emperor his daughter would die when she reached 18 years old from a snake bite. The emperor was so distraught at the idea of losing his daughter, whom he cherished, that he built Maiden's Tower on a rock surrounded by water so no snake would be able to reach her. However, a fruit basket was delivered one day, and a snake hiding in there bought about her demise. If you like James Bond films, you may recognise Maidens Tower from the famous 1999 film "The World is Not Enough."
Tourist Attraction and Restaurant
Maiden's Tower opened to visitors in 1998, around 2500 years after its construction. Still today, it operates as a lighthouse, semaphore station and custom control area and is a popular tourist attraction with a restaurant, gift shop and cafe. Although closed on Mondays, Maiden's Tower opens every other day from 12 noon until 7 p.m. and hosts evening events.
While visiting Maiden's Tower, see the small Bosphorus Museum and observation tower for perfect 360-degree views of Istanbul, making this an exciting excursion. Maiden's Tower is easily accessible from Istanbul's Uskudar district and stands on a small Bosphorus inlet. A short walk from Uskudar port, frequent ferry services also run from Eminonu and Karakoy ports.
More about the Bosphorus and Asian Istanbul
Yali Mansions: Istanbul's Bosphorus strait is home to Turkey's most expensive real estate market, the yali mansions. In many cases, royalty and their entourage built these old Ottoman buildings as summer homes. These days, some operate as hotels or museums, but in all cases, their cultural heritage is just as crucial to Istanbul as the Bosphorus.
About Asian Istanbul: Many international travel brochures talk about tourist attractions in European Istanbul. Yet for curious, independent travellers, the Asian side holds just as many delights, including the famous Maiden's Tower. Find out what to see and where to go in this area guide to Asian Istanbul.