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Maiden Tower in Istanbul

For centuries, the Maiden Tower, one of Istanbul’s main landmarks, has stood on a tiny island in the Bosphorus Strait. How to get there, not only guides, but also any of the inhabitants of the city. This structure is often called Kyz Kulesi or Leandrove Tower, but it does not affect the popularity of the attraction. It is included in most sightseeing programs. The image can be found on magnets, calendars, brochures for tourist services, mugs and other souvenirs.

History of the construction of the Maiden’s Tower

Against the background of the sunset and later, when darkness begins to gather, her chiseled silhouette looks like an exquisite statue. But the history of the Maiden Tower in Istanbul is not at all simple. According to historians, originally on the rocky islet in the 5th century BC. a fort was erected. The Watchtower appeared a century later during the reign of Emperor Constantine. It was built of wood, like many of the buildings of that time. The structure has changed its purpose several times. In the 15th century it was converted into a lighthouse. Its modernized version even today regularly signals with red and white flashes. The building was then converted into a prison until a major fire broke out in the 18th century.


The maiden tower was restored at the behest of Damat Ibrahim Pasha, erecting again a small, compact tower with many windows for a better view of the surrounding area. But the material has already served as stone.

After the overhaul, Kyz Kulesi was at the disposal of the Bosphorus ship traffic control for a long time. During the cholera epidemic it was converted into a hospital, fortunately it stood in a secluded place, and quarantine measures were strictly observed. Then Kyz Kulesi was brought back under the authority of the Maritime Service. In 2000, its fate changed again abruptly, and the history of the Maiden Tower in Istanbul added yet another page.

Now it has been transformed into a cultural site, with galleries, exhibition centers, a restaurant and bar, an observation deck on the upper level, free access for viewing, only to the museum you have to buy tickets.

Legends of the Maiden Tower

Tourist interest in the site does not wane. Some people are attracted to the tower as a monument of culture and architecture, others are interested in visiting the varied exhibitions that are regularly held in its halls. Romantically inclined visitors enjoy booking a table at the Maiden Tower restaurant in Istanbul and enjoying the beautiful views from the panoramic windows. Naturally, it was not without mysterious and a bit sad legends.

According to one of them, one of the sultans had a beautiful daughter. As an infant, she was predicted to die from a snake bite. The ruler solved the problem drastically by building a tower on the island and relocating the infant there until he came of age. It is quite natural that the tower was named Maiden Tower. According to one version, the tragedy could not be avoided, the snake got to the island in a basket with flowers, presented for his birthday. According to another, all ended well, because at that moment there was a Persian prince on the island, who saved the girl from the fatal bite.

The second name of the tower is Leandrova and there is a second, no less romantic story associated with it. It was at its foot that the priestess of Aphrodite, Hero, and the young man in love with her, Leander, met. To meet his beloved, he sailed across the Bosporus, guided by the light that the girl lit in the lighthouse. When the other priests found out about these meetings, they decided to destroy the young man. The fire was put out and Leander drowned, unable to find shore. After the death of her lover, Hero also threw herself into the waves. Thus the tower became Leandrove’s.

Legends of the Maiden Tower

What to see in the Maiden’s Tower?

In the local dialect it is called Kyz Kulesi, the guidebooks usually indicate all variants of the name of the attractions. The tower consists of 3 levels.

The first one is occupied by a restaurant. The medieval style was chosen for its design. The menu is dominated by Turkish cuisine. Breakfast is offered from 9 a.m. on weekends from ten o’clock. It also includes a visit to the museum. At this time, there are no special requirements and wishes for the appearance of visitors. In the evening there is a dress code, and visitors in T-shirts, shorts and other frivolous attire will be politely but firmly refused service, as well as those who have brought small children. Live music is playing, the atmosphere is sophisticated, but at the same time relaxed and very cozy. Reservations for a table by the window are 20 liras more expensive. It is worth considering that a lot of visitors at any time of year, so it is better to make an application in advance, it can be done on the official website of the restaurant.

On the middle level are the exhibition halls, and the building is crowned by a pointed roof with the national flag on a pointed spire.

Maiden Tower is quite popular in the culture.

Aivazovsky painted “View of Leandrova Tower in Constantinople”. Kyz Kulesi appears in one of the James Bond series. Her silhouette is on the 10 lire bill.

You can visit this structure on the island by buying a ticket to the museum or by booking a table at the restaurant “Kyz Kulesi”. The observation deck, which offers a delightful view of the panorama of the city and the strait, is also constantly in demand. A few hours are enough to see the Maiden Tower in Istanbul if you plan not only to see the surroundings from the observation deck, but also to visit a restaurant, cafe, exhibition center. The space itself is free to enter, and the entrance is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. To see the museum exhibits you will need to pay in the range of 40 lire. Students go into the auditorium for half the price.

How do I get to Maiden Tower?

The way depends on which part of the city the trip starts from. The point of departure of the boats is the pier Kabatash. From the Blue Mosque, the T1 streetcar line goes just to the right place. From the Asian part of the city it is more convenient to get to the Saladzhak pier. The average ticket to the island is 25 liras, leaving every hour. It’s worth noting that when ordering dinner at the Maiden’s Tower restaurant, the cost of transportation is included in the price when you make your reservation; special flights run all evening for customers.

Location on the map

It is easier to leave from the waterfront of the Saladzak district, the frequency of the boats is about 15 minutes. Those who are in the mood for a leisurely trip admiring the seascape are in for a slight disappointment. The way takes only 3-5 minutes, but from the pier you can go straight up to the observation deck. It is worth heeding the advice of the guides and take something warm to wear, the wind at altitude almost never stops all year round.

A visit to the Maiden’s Tower will long be remembered as an immersion into the romantic atmosphere and a touch of ancient ancient legends.

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