Comparing to the other popular buildings in Istanbul like Hagia Sophia or Topkapi Palace, Kız Kulesi, relatively small is one of the most famous buildings in Istanbul. Located in a small islet on the Bosphorus, shrouded with legends, today is a popular place for couples visiting the local restaurant and café. View of the Bosphorus and Istanbul’s skyline seen from these place is outstanding.
The first tower was built in 408 BC by the Athenians. It had a function of a watchtower so that the crew was able to observe and inform about approaching Persian ships.
The tower was extended at the beginning of the twelfth century by the Byzantines, and at those times had a function of a fortress.
Ottoman Turks renewed it several times. In the time of the Ottoman Empire Kız Kulesi were a watchtower, a prison, and a lighthouse.
The Legend behind the name
Leander’s tower is the older of the two names that Kiz Kulesi is known of. It comes from the Greek myth about Leander who was swimming through the strait every night to get to the tower, where his lover was kept-
a priestess of Aphrodite.
Name in this case is a bit misleading because as it was mentioned in the myth the strait is a Dardanelle not Bosphorous.
The younger name of the building, Maiden’s Tower was taken from the legend about the beloved daughter of the Ottoman sultan. He wanted to prevent her from a deadly snake bite, which was foretold by the oracle. This situation was supposed to happen on the day of the 18th birthday of the girl. Sultan situated his daughter
in a tower in the middle of the Bosphorus, where no snakes could have an access.
On the 18th birthday of his beloved daughter, Sultan gave her a basket of exotic fruits. It turned out, however, that among them snake had been hiding and bit the princess who died in her father’s arms, just as the oracle foretold.