The Maiden’s Tower (Turkish: Kız Kulesi), also known as Leander’s Tower (Tower of Leandros) since the medieval 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.
After the naval victory at Cyzicus, the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades possibly built a custom station for ships coming from the Black Sea on a small rock in front of Chrysopolis (today’s Üsküdar). In 1110 Byzantine Emperor Alexius Comnenus built a wooden tower protected by a stone wall. From the tower an iron chain stretched across to another tower erected on the European shore, at the quarter of Mangana in Constantinople. The islet was then connected to the Asiatic shore through a defense wall, whose underwater remains are still visible. During the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1453, the tower held a Byzantine garrison commanded by the Venetian Gabriele Trevisano. Subsequently, the structure was used as a watchtower by the Ottoman Turks during the reign of Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror.
The tower, often called Leander’s Tower in reference to the legend of Hero and Leander (which is set in the Dardanelles strait, also known in antiquity as the Hellespont), was destroyed during the earthquake of 1509, and then burned down in 1721. Following that it was used as a lighthouse, and the surrounding walls were repaired in 1731 and 1734, until in 1763 it was reconstructed using stone. From 1829 the tower was used as a quarantine station. In 1832 the tower was restored by Sultan Mahmud II. Restored again by the harbour authority in 1945, the most recent restoration began in 1998 for the James Bond movie The World Is Not Enough. Steel supports were added around the ancient tower as a precaution after the 17 August 1999 earthquake.
The interior of the tower has been converted into a café and restaurant, with views of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital. Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day.
Origin country: Turkey