The Maiden’s Tower (Kiz Kulesi in Turkish) is a fantastic tower on the sea at the entrance of the Bosphorus, along Uskudar coasts in Istanbul. Also known as the Leandros, is the one of the most popular landmarks and monuments of the city.
Once a watch-out tower, the Maiden’s Tower today serves as a cafe and restaurant during day-time, and as a private restaurant in the evenings. It also hosts variety of special invitations and organizations such as weddings, meetings, launches and business meals.
History of Maiden’s Tower
According to the historians, a land piece has been detached from the from the Asian coasts and an islet was formed. And it is believed that a tower the Athenian commander Alkibiades built a tower on this islet around 340 B.C. to control the ships, and collect taxes, at the entrance of the Bosphorus.
A monumental tomb on marble columns was built in 341 B.C., by the Greek Commander Chares on the islet, for his wife.
During the Roman period in 1110s, the first distinctive tower on the islet was built by Emperor Manuel Comnenos. During the years 1143 and 1178, two towers was built by the Emperor Manuel to defend the city. One of them was on the islet, and the other was was on the beach area of the Topkapi Palace. And there had been a chain tied between the two towers to prevent enemy ships enter the Bosphorus, and merchant ships passing without tax.
During the Byzantium period, the tower on the islet had been ruined and repaired from time to time, and used as a base by the Venetians during the conquest of Istanbul. It had been a base for the fleet from Venice to help Byzantine while Fatih Sultan Mehmed was invading the city.
After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmed demolished the small castle here and built a new small castle that was made of stone and placed cannons.
The foundations of today’s Maiden’s tower are from the Fatih Sultan Mehmed period. It is also known that the tower had been repaired or reconstructed during the Ottoman period.
In the 17th century, a lighthouse has been placed on the islet due to the shallow waters around. And it started to serve as a lighthouse since then.
In the years 1830-1831, the tower had turned into a quarantine hospital due to cholera to prevent the plague not spread into the city. Later in the years 1836-1837, about 30 thousand people died from a plague, and some of the patients had been isolated in a small hospital that was established here on the islet.
Maiden’s Tower has gained its present shape in the style of Ottoman-baroque architecture after the big restoration in 1833. And a new lighthouse was built in 1857 by a French company.
The tower today serves as a cafe and restaurant during the day, and as a private restaurant in the evenings.
Maiden’s Tower also has three legends coming from the ancient Greek, Byzantium and Ottomans era.
The Legend of Leandros
A young man named Leandros falls in love with a nun named Hero who is faithful to Aphrodite. However, as a nun, falling in love with someone was a taboo. Hero was living in the tower, and she was lighting a bonfire every night to let Leandros find his way to her by swimming to the tower.
They were meeting every night until one night the bonfire burns out by a storm and Leandros losts his way in the waters and dies. And after she commits suicide.
The Princess Legend
Once upon a time, an oracle makes a prophecy to the King that his daughter will die due to a snakebite. Upon hearing this, the King builds a castle on the sea to protect his daughter from snakes.
Time passes and the girl grows up in the castle. However, the prophecy inevitably comes true. A snake inside a fruit basket that was carried to the princess, bites and kills her.
The Battalgazi Legend
A man named Battalgazi falls in love with the daughter of Tekfur, a Christian ruler. Tekfur didn’t want his daughter to be with Battalgazi and he puts her in the tower to protect her. Later on, Battalgazi attacks the tower, takes the girl, rides away very quickly with his horse. The famous Turkish expression of “he who takes the horse got by Usküdar” comes from this legend.
Maiden’s Tower Attractions
You can enjoy the Kuledebar Cafe of the tower. It is at the top of the tower with a balcony to enjoy the beautiful panoramic views of the city.
You don’t need a reservation to visit the tower and the restaurant-cafe (except dinners).
You can have a great breakfast at the tower with best view of Istanbul on the sea.
Breakfast service starts at 09.00 (10.00 on weekends) and ends at 13.00.
You can have a lunch at the main restaurant under the tower. No need for a reservation.
Lunch service starts from 12.00.
You can have a romantic dinner at the Maiden’s Tower restaurant. A unique experience in the company of a mystical atmosphere, romantic songs by an orchestra.
Dinner service starts at 20:15
The restaurant serves International cuisine.
You’ll find two types of fix rate menus.
Notice: Children under the age of 7 and male guests with flip-flops and shorts are not allowed to the tower for dinner.
Visiting Hours & Admissions
Opening Hours & Tips
Maiden’s Tower is closed due to restoration work. It is declared that Maiden’s Tower will serve as a museum after the restoration work.
How to Get to Maiden’s Tower?
The Maiden’s Tower is situated about 150-200 meters across the Uskudar coasts, on the sea at the Salacak region, at entrance of the Bosphorus. See the location map
The most practical way to get to Maiden’s Tower is via the Maiden’s Tower Boat Services from Kabatas pier and Uskudar Salacak Pier.
- To get to Kabatas, take to tram from Sultanahmet.
- From Taksim, take the funicular to Kabatas (from taksim Square).
- To get to Uskudar, from Besiktas, by public ferries or boats,
- From Sultanahmet and Eminonu, by Bagcilar-Kabatas tram (T1 line) to Sirkeci,
- And than from Sirkeci via the Marmaray, or from Eminonu by public ferries to Uskudar.
- To get to Salacak pier from Uskudar, take a 5 minutes public bus, taxi, or walk about 1,8 km. following the shore.
Maiden’s Tower Boat Services (for Tower visitors)
* There are boat ring services from Kabatas pier (only at weekends) and Salacak coast (very close to the tower)
* Kabatas to Maiden’s Tower boat departures: ring service in every hour between 10:00-18:00 (weekends only)
* Salacak to Maiden’s Tower boat departures: ring service in every 15 minutes between 09:15-18:30
Maiden’s Tower Boat Services (for Dinner with Reservations)
* There are boat services for dinner guests with reservations, from Kabatas pier and Salacak coast
* Dinner boat service hours from Kabatas to Maiden’s Tower: every day at 20:00, 20:45 and 21:30
* Dinner boat service hours from Maiden’s Tower to Kabatas: every day at 23:00, 23:45, 00:30
* from Salacak coast, dinner boat ring services to Maiden’s Tower starts at 20:15
Address: Salacak, Uskudar, Istanbul
Tel: +90 216 342 47 47