Tower on the sea – Kizkulesi

At the intersection of the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn, where east and west mingle in the waters of Istanbul, stands the Maiden’s or Maiden’s Tower. She can be crowned queen or pearl of the Bosphorus! It has an important place among the architectural wonders of Istanbul. So much so that it has become a symbol of the Bosphorus, Istanbul, and Üsküdar. It is popular among Istanbulites and tourists. It is the only remaining Byzantine structure (although it has been demolished and replaced many times) in the Bosphorus, and many legends are associated with it.

Also called the Tower of Leandros, as it was known in Byzantine times and by some European historians, it was one of the classic sites of Constantinople. There are several myths associated with this ancient islet and its small tower or guard house.

One tells the love story of Leandros – the King of Turkey. He locked his daughter in the tower to protect her. Hence the name Tower of Leandros and Maiden’s Tower. Then there is a relatively recent legend, again about love, where two ancient towers of Istanbul, one is the Maiden’s Tower and the other is the Galata Tower, fall in love!

The tower is located on a small island near the coast of Üsküdar and is quite small. It has a restaurant on the first floor and a cafe on the top floor.

It’s also a popular place to take photos of the tower on the Asian side—your shot will feature the beautiful tower with Old Istanbul in the background.

In early 1999, Hollywood arrived and the tower was used to film locations for the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan. For example, in the movie, it was used for the villain Renard’s lair.

A bit of history

It was the ancient Greeks who first settled in today’s sprawling cosmopolitan city of Istanbul. One of the areas where they built a settlement is the Chrysopolis rocks, also known as Scutari in the Ottoman period, which is today’s Üsküdar.

A small island about 180 m from the coast served as a station for ships passing through the Bosphorus waterways.

Üsküdar was a place where caravans and pilgrims to Syria, Persia, and the East in general came and went. Today there is still a busy bus station and a ferry terminal called Harem.

The Maiden’s or Maiden’s Tower was used for many purposes: in ancient history as a defensive castle, a place to collect taxes from commercial ships, a defense, a lighthouse, a quarantine hospital, a prison, an exile station, and a radio station during a cholera epidemic.

Today, the tower is served by regular ferries and is one of the most romantic spots in the city. Today, the interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular cafe and restaurant. Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day, where you can take a break at the restaurant on the first floor and the cafe at the top of the tower. Expect to spend a decent amount of money here on a romantic date!