Maiden's Tower of Istanbul "Kız kulesi"

Maiden's Tower of Istanbul

For almost every traveler it is a must, the Maiden's Tower or as the locals say "Kız kulesi", the Maiden's Tower, because who does not at least know pictures of the old lighthouse from the 18th century, which has become one of the symbols of Istanbul.

On a small island that is easily accessible by boat, the lighthouse is located about 180 meters off Üskudar in the Bosphorus on a natural rocky outcrop.

Girl's castle "Kız kulesi" in the same place Kızkalesi near Silifke

istanbul leanderturm 1As in many places in Turkey where there are castles or at least towers of whatever origin, the name "Kız kulesi" hides a little anecdote from the past, which is similar everywhere but differs in some details.

For comparison, there is the so-called girls' castle "Kız kulesi" in the village of the same name Kızkalesi near Silifke. In Istanbul, the anecdote tells that once a girl there received the prophecy that she would die from poison, whereupon her father had her taken to the island for protection.

Since the island had to be supplied from the mainland, the father organized that too. One day the girl was dead because a snake had been brought in one of the fruit baskets that had been brought to the island, and it killed the girl with its bite.

Legendary straits at the Dardanelles

der leanderturm von istanbulBut there is also an anecdote for the actually European name Maiden's Tower that goes far back to antiquity, because at the time an antique fabric was very fashionable, which, however, was produced on the Dardanelles, not on the Bosporus. But that's just the way it is with anecdotes.

According to legend, the youth Leander swam across the Hellespont, the legendary strait near the Dardanelles, to his beloved Hero almost every night, whereby Hero always used a torch to show her lover the way.

As you might have guessed, that torch went out one night and Leander lost his bearings and miserably drowned. The next morning, Hero found her beloved Leander lying dead on the beach, after which she threw herself into the water and drowned.

A long chain to Mangana Palace

istanbul leanderturm 3In Byzantine times, the island was already used as a location for beacons to guide shipping. Also, tradition says that there was a long chain stretched just below the waterline to the Mangana Palace to protect the harbor and the city of Byzantium from attacks.

It remains to be seen whether this chain was actually able to span 180 meters and more over the Bosporus and thus protect it. However, one finds similar stories in many ports of antiquity, so that there were certainly other reasons for chain constructions of this kind in addition to protection.

James Bond Movie: "The World Is Not Enough"

istanbul leanderturm 4The Maiden's Tower also played a special role in the history of the lighthouse in the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough", since the "evil" Elektra King had chosen the tower as a hiding place. Now a busy restaurant that also offers an excellent breakfast buffet, the lighthouse has been used as an optical telegraph, quarantine station, customs house and to house passionate naval officers. A thoroughly versatile use that suggests a long existence.

So if you have the time and desire to take a relaxing boat tour on the Bosphorus, why not stop off at Maiden's Tower or, if you prefer, at Kız Kulesi. Have lots of fun with it.

Please also read:

Historical Istanbul - first walking tour

Byzantine Hagia Sophia - Anthemios & Isodorus


Life | Outdoors