The Maiden’s Tower, also known as Kız Kulesi in Turkish, is a unique and historic tower located on a small islet at the entrance of the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul. It is probably one of the most world-renowned and historical sights of Istanbul. A must-see place for travelers coming to Istanbul.
During the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, the island where the tower is situated was used for surveillance and base purposes, as well as various towers were built. The building, which was used by the military to control maritime traffic during the Republican period, has undergone various renovations. Today, it serves as a restaurant and museum for its visitors upon its restoration process. Various events are also held at the tower.
It is estimated that the tower was built 2500 years ago. The rocks on which the tower is located were first mentioned in 410 BC. It is also stated that the rocky place was used by the Athenians to control the ship traffic in the strait.
Insider Advice: Kickstart your Istanbul adventure with the Istanbul E-Pass or Istanbul Tourist Pass. These passes provide free access to around 70+ top attractions, tours and essential local services in the city with around 70% savings.
Emperor Alexius Commenus erected the tower besides a stone wall during the Byzantine Empire. Later, the tower was linked by a defensive wall when the Ottomans arrived to seize Constantinople; the tower functioned as a garrison for the Byzantine soldiers during the invasion. Following the city’s takeover, the Ottomans utilized the tower as a watchtower and dubbed it Leander’s Tower after the legend of Hero and Leander.
The tower was wrecked by an earthquake in 1509 and then burnt down in 1721. Sultan Mahmud II renovated the tower in the year 1832. In truth, this was not the tower’s first restoration; it received one in 1998 for the filming of James Bond’s The World Is Not Enough.
Many people say the tower was built for a daughter’s Emperor, a monarch who adored his daughter. A clairvoyant once warned the Emperor that his daughter would die due to a snake bite. He then considered erecting a tower to keep her away from land and therefore preserve her from an early death. He had the tower erected in the middle of the Bosphorus, and once it was completed, the princess had it placed there, where she was periodically visited.
On her birthday, her father gave her a hamper full of fruits; however, when she approached the basket, a concealed snake within the basket bit the princess, and she died as prophesied by the psychic.
The name Leander’s Tower is derived from a separate myth. In the Greek story of Hero and Leander, Leander was a young man from Abydos, and Hero was an Aphrodite priestess who dwelt in a tower in Sestos. Leander fell in love with the Hero and would swim across the Hellespont every night to be with her.
Another tale concerning the tower is about Battal Ghazi and an Ottoman Governor’s daughter who lived in the tower. After failing to invade Istanbul, Battal Ghazi pitched his camp on the Bosphorus’s coast, just to the right of the Maiden’s Tower.
According to myth, he stayed for seven years because he was in love with Uskudar’s governor’s daughter. Later, the governor imprisoned his daughter within the tower to keep her safe from Battal Ghazi. Battal Ghazi and his warriors stormed the tower and escaped with the daughter and all the riches she had secreted with her.
Hours and Fees
Maiden’s Tower is currently under restoration and closed for visits