The Maiden's Tower (Turkish: Kız Kulesi), also known as Leander's Tower (Tower of Leandros) since the Byzantine period, is a tower on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, 200 m (220 yd) from the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey.

The Maiden's Tower
Kız Kulesi
Seen from Üsküdar
General information
TypeObservation tower
Broadcasting tower
LocationBosporus, Istanbul, Turkey
Coordinates41°01′16.2″N 29°00′15.3″E / 41.021167°N 29.004250°E / 41.021167; 29.004250
Construction started1110
OwnerCity of Istanbul, Turkey
ManagementMinistry of Culture and Tourism (Turkey)
Technical details
Floor count5[1]
[1] "Maiden's Tower". Emporis. Archived from the original on 9 October 2021.
Maiden's Tower and the Seraglio Point
Map of Constantinople (1422) by Florentine cartographer Cristoforo Buondelmonti, showing Pera at the north of the Golden Horn, Constantinople at south, and the Maiden's Tower at right, in the sea, off the coast of Üsküdar on the Asian side of the Bosphorus
Maiden's Tower at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus, with the Seraglio Point in the background
Maiden's Tower on the reverse of the 10 lira banknote (1966–1981)

The tower appeared on the reverse of the Turkish 10 lira banknote from 1966 to 1981.[2]

History edit

After the naval victory at Cyzicus, in 408 BC the Athenian general Alcibiades probably built a custom station for ships coming from the Black Sea on a small rock called Arcla (small castle) and Damialis (its calf) in front of Chrysopolis (today's Üsküdar).[3]

In 1110 Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus built a wooden tower protected by a stone wall.[3] From the tower an iron chain stretched across to another tower erected on the European shore in the Mangana quarter of Constantinople.[3] The islet was then connected to the Asiatic shore through a defence wall whose underwater remains are still visible.[3] During the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in 1453, the tower held a Byzantine garrison commanded by the Venetian Gabriele Trevisano.[3] Subsequently, the structure was used as a watchtower by the Ottomans during the reign of sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.[3]

The tower was destroyed during the earthquake of 1509, rebuilt, and then burned down in 1721.[3] Reconstruction was ordered by the grand vizier Damad Ibrahim Pasha and the new building was used as a lighthouse; the surrounding walls were repaired in 1731 and 1734. Then in 1763 the tower was reconstructed in more durable stone.[3] From 1829 it was used as a quarantine station before being restored again by Sultan Mahmud II in 1832.[3] In 1945 it was the turn of the harbour authority to patch it up.[3] Then in 1998 it was restored again, shortly before appearing in the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough.

After the 17 August 1999 earthquake and tsunami in the Sea of Marmara steel supports were added to the tower to strengthen it.[4] The interior was converted into a café and restaurant, with views of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital at Sarayburnu.[5] Private boats ply back and forth between the tower and the shore throughout the day.[6]

In 2021 work on restoring the tower yet again . The work was completed in 2023 and the tower reopened to the public in May of that year.[2]

Origin of the name edit

There are several stories about the tower's name. According to one of them, an oracle prophesied that the emperor's much beloved daughter would be killed by a venomous snake on her eighteenth birthday. To protect her, the emperor had the tower built in the Bosphorus and had her locked up there to keep her away from snakes. Her only regular visitor was her father. On her eighteenh birthday, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic fruits as a gift, delighted that he had been able to thwart the prophecy. However, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the princess who died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted, hence the name Maiden's Tower.[7]

The tower's alternative name, Leander's Tower (Greek: Πύργος του Λέανδρου; Latin: Tour de Léandros), comes from the Greek myth of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower at Sestos, at the edge of the Hellespont (Dardanelles). Leander (Leandros), a young man from Abydos on the other side of the strait, fell in love with her and would swim across the Hellespont every night to be with her. Hero would light a lamp at the top of her tower to guide his way. Succumbing to Leander's pleas and to his argument that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to make love to her throughout the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves buffeted Leander as he crossed. The wind blew out Hero's light, and Leander lost his way and was drowned. The grief-stricken Hero threw herself from the tower and died as well. Due to the similarity between the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, Leander's story somehow came to be attached to the tower too.[8]

In popular culture edit

See also edit

References and notes edit

  1. ^ a b "Maiden's Tower". Emporis. Archived from the original on 9 October 2021.
  2. ^ Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey Archived 15 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine. Banknote Museum: 6. Emission Group - Ten Turkish Lira - I. Series Archived 2009-04-17 at the Wayback Machine & II. Series Archived 2009-04-16 at the Wayback Machine. – Retrieved on 20 April 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Müller-Wiener (1976), p. 334
  4. ^ "Maiden's Tower official website: Restoration".
  5. ^ "Maiden's Tower official website: Photo gallery".
  6. ^ "Maiden's Tower official website: Timetable of boat transfers to the tower".
  7. ^ "Maiden's Tower". The Byzantine Legacy. Retrieved 18 June 2022.
  8. ^ "Maidens Tower - All About Istanbul". Retrieved 18 June 2022.

Sources edit

External links edit