Maide´s Tower

Dating back to the 5th century A.D., this iconic structure has transformed from a humble customs post to a multifaceted wonder. Imagine a fortress, a lighthouse, and even a quarantine hospital – each chapter weaving a unique story in the tower´s evolution.

Updated Date : 12.12.2023


Fast forward to today, where the Maiden's Tower beckons with a freshly restored allure. With the Istanbul E-pass in hand, skip the ticket line and pe into this historic marvel. The tales echo through time, and the Maiden's Tower stands as a testament to Istanbul's vibrant past, ready to be explored in all its glory.

Chronicles of the Maiden’s Tower

The Maiden's Tower, with its rich history dating back to the 5th century A.D., has undergone various transformations over the centuries. Originally serving as a customs post on a small island, a tower was erected by the Black Sea to inspect ships and collect taxes.
In the 12th century, Emperor Manuel I Komnenas fortified the islet with a defense tower, linked by a chain to another near Mangana Monastery. This chain facilitated ship passage through the Bosphorus.
Following the conquest in 1453, Mehmet the Conqueror transformed the site into a castle, stationing a guard unit. The tradition of the mehter playing at dusk and dawn, along with cannon firing during special occasions, became established.
Between 1660 and 1730, the tower's role evolved under Sultan Ahmed III's Grand Vizier, marking its transition from fortress to lighthouse, guiding ships through the waters. This shift became official during the 19th century.
In response to health crises, the tower became a quarantine hospital in the 19th century. It successfully isolated patients during outbreaks like cholera in 1847 and the plague in 1836-1837.
Throughout the years, the Maiden's Tower served perse purposes – from a lighthouse and gas tank to a radar station, emphasizing safety in sea transportation. The tower even played a role in poetry, being declared the "Republic of Poetry" in 1992.
In 1994, it shifted from the Ministry of Transportation to the Naval Forces Command. A significant restoration period from 1995 to 2000 preceded its lease to a private facility for tourism.
The tower's recent journey involves a 2021-2023 restoration led by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Completed in May 2023, the refurbished tower was unveiled with a spectacular laser show on May 11, 2023, ushering in a new chapter in its long and storied history.

Mythes of Maiden's Tower

The King's Daughter

One famous story about the tower is about a king and his daughter. A fortune teller told the king that his daughter would be bitten by snakes and die. To keep her safe, the king had a tower built on the rocks near Salacak and put his daughter inside it. The king would send food to his daughter in a basket at specific times. Unfortunately, one day, a snake hidden in the fruit basket bit her, and she passed away.

Battal Gazi

The most famous legend about the tower is the tale of a king and his daughter. Another legend involves Battal Gazi. When the Byzantine Tyrant saw Battal Gazi positioned across the city, he got worried and hid his treasures and daughter in the tower. However, Battal Gazi conquered the tower, took both the treasures and the princess, and rode his horse across Uskudar. It is said that this event is the origin of the saying "He who took the horse crossed Uskudar."

Leandros

The first legend linked to the Maiden's Tower was documented by Ovidius. In this story, Hero, a priestess at the Temple of Aphrodite in Sestos on the western side of the Dardanelles, falls in love with Leandros from Abydos. Every night, Leandros swims across to Sestos to be with Hero. However, during a storm, the lantern in the tower goes out, and Leandros loses his way, tragically drowning. The next day, upon discovering Leandros's lifeless body on the shore, Hero is so grief-stricken that she takes her own life by jumping into the water. Originally set in Çanakkale, this legend was later adapted by European travelers in the 18th century to fit the Maiden's Tower on the Bosphorus, aligning with the fashionable interest in "antiquity" during that era. Consequently, the tower came to be known as "Tour de Leandre" or "Leandre Tower."

The Maiden's Tower emerges as a captivating symbol of Istanbul's rich history and cultural legacy. From its early origins as a customs post to its perse roles as a fortress, lighthouse, and even a quarantine hospital, the tower weaves a narrative that reflects the city's evolution. With an Istanbul E-pass, you can enjoy Maiden Tower by skipping the ticket line. All you need is have an E-pass and enjoy most of attractions in Istanbul.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the story of Maiden’s Tower?

    Once upon a time, there was a king and his daughter. A fortune teller warned the king that snakes would bite his daughter and she would die. To protect her, the king built a tower on rocks near Salacak and placed his daughter inside it. He sent food to her in a basket at certain times. Sadly, one day, a snake hidden in the fruit basket bit her, and she didn't make it.

  • How can I go to the Maiden’s Tower?

    There are two points boat departuring for Maiden’s Tower. One cruise departuring from Galataport (European side), another port is Uskudar (Asian side). With an Istanbul E-pass, you can have skip the ticket line and get to the Maiden’s Tower free. 

  • What is the meaning of Kiz Kulesi?

    Kiz Kulesi meaning is Maiden’s Tower or Leander’s Tower. In Turkish language kiz meaning is “girl”, Kule meaning is “tower”. So if we do direct translate, it mean’s “Girl’s Tower”. Name was taken from it’s story.

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