Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Maiden's Tower - Kız Kulesi

Today's photo trek will take us to the Asian side of Istambul to one of the must picturesque towers of the city:  The Maiden's Tower ( Kıs Kulesi in Turkish).
Boat's view of Maiden's Tower.
To get to Maiden's Tower from the European side you can take a ferry to Usküdar Iskelesi.  From there you have to walk 15 min.-20 min. to the south sea shore of Usküdar.   The walk is really nice and you can get really nice shots of the European side with a telephoto lens  as well as you can have a short visit to the little mosque of Şemsi Pasha.    

Maiden's Tower view of the sea shore of Üsküdar.

The trek will take from two to three hours and you will have to take a little boat to the Maiden's Tower.  The entrance is 20 TL that includes the boat to the islet.

Şemsi Pasha Mosque's View from Üsküdar İskelesi.

15 min walk from Üsküdar İskelesi to Maiden's Tower.
 Flower's vendor on the way to Maiden's Tower. 
 Just strait 200 m (220 yd)  off from the coast of Üsküdar in İstanbul, the cute little Maiden's Tower crops up in many old pictures of Istanbul and has attracted many romantic stories over the years. After the most recent restorarion, it houses a restaurant and small cafe, and offees 360°  city view from its balcony. 
Sea shore of Üsküdar.
Although the Tower currently standing on the rock off Üsküdar dates back only to the 19th century the earliest building there seems to have been a small fort built by the Athenian general Alcibades in 408 BC to keep the Persians at bay.  Later the Byzantine Emperor Manuel I Comnenos (1143-80) had a miniature castle created to discourage invaders.   Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror replaced this mini castle with one of his one which was restored by Sultan Selim I. 

Private boats make trips to the tower. 
 A view of Maiden's Tower and Sultanahmet from Usküdar sea shore.

Like so many buildings in İstanbul, the Maiden's Tower has also fallen foul of a fire, this time on started by torches at a party that got out of control ın 1719.  It was replace almost immediately by Sultan Ahmed III's Grand Vizir Damat İbrahim Paşa at wich point it appears to have been turned into a lighthouse.  The final version was created by Sultan Mahmud II in the early 19th century. 
Candelabre at Maiden's Tower entrance.
The interior of the tower has been transformed into a popular café and restaurant, with an excellent view of the former Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman capital.  

Entrance to Maiden's Tower Restaurant.
Restaurant at Meiden's Tower.
A la carte dinners are served on the ground floor of the tower where the only vies are though small side windows.  Alternatively, you can down a tea or coffee at the top floor cafe which some might argue is the nicer venue anyways.
The Legends
There are many legends about the construction of the tower and its location.  On the way to the top of the tower you can see each level has a wall paints with the fabulous stories tight to this building.  
Legend of Leandro's Tower.
The older name Leander's Tower comes from a story about a maiden: the ancient 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 every night across the Hellespont to be with her. Hero would light a lamp every night at the top of her tower to guide his way.

Succumbing to Leander's soft words, and to his argument that Aphrodite, as goddess of love, would scorn the worship of a virgin, Hero allowed him to make love to her. This routine lasted through the warm summer. But one stormy winter night, the waves tossed Leander in the sea and the breezes blew out Hero's light, and Leander lost his way, and was drowned. Hero threw herself from the tower in grief and died as well. The name Maiden's Tower might also have its origins in this ancient story.

Legend of the Snake in the Basket.

According to the most popular Turkish legend, an emperor had a much beloved daughter and one day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The emperor, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father.

On the 18th birthday of the princess, the emperor brought her a basket of exotic sumptuous fruits as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.

Legend of Battal Gazi.
The Turkish hero Battal Gazi was an eight century Umayyad soldier who used to farm land inmediately across from the tower and fell in love with the Byzantine emperor's daugher.  While he was away fighting in Damascus, the emperor imprisoned his daughter on the rock.  On his return Battal Gazi was able to free her, but only with the help of a highly unlikely sounding 700 soldiers. 

360 Degree View of Istanbul
Once you are a the top of the tower you can enjoy the 360 degree view of İstanbul.
View of Galata Tower from the top Café of Maiden's Tower.
Maiden's Tower Café.

View of Bosphorus and Torre Galata from Maiden's Tower.

View of Üsküdar Beledeyesi from Maiden's Tower.

View of Üuskudar from Maiden's Tower.
View of İstanbul's Port from Maiden's Tower.

Suleymaniye's view from a Maiden's Tower window.

 View from the Top of the tower to the islet.
View of Topkapı Palace, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque from Maiden's Tower.

Lighthouse at Maiden's Tower islet.

A view of Maiden's Tower from Ferry to Kadiköy.
I hope you enjoyed the views!. 
Soreya Reyes.
 If you are interested in a photo guide trek in Istanbul inbox for more info:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Galata Bridge Photo Trek

I've been thru Galata Bridge many times but never did a photo trek on it.  This is the first trek of the year for me and I was lucky the light was beautiful today.   I've got to explore the great Galata Bridge, it's angles, limits, frames and finally  it's people. 

This photo trek takes two hours.  İt is only one bridge but you need time to go upside down, back and forth and explore the great views of the city and the bridge by itself. 

You can start from Karaköy at Beyoğlu District and go all the way down to Eminönu and change perspectives from one side to the other.  There are stairs that will take you to the Restaurant floor and also there are tunels between restaurants that will take you from one side to the other without having to go upstairs again.
The Galata Bridge (in Turkish Galata Köprüsü) is a bridge that spans the Golden Horn in Istanbul, Turkey. From the end of the 19th century in particular, the bridge has featured in Turkish literature, theater, poetry and novels.
  View of Galata Bridge from Karaköy to Emınönu
It is said that Sultan Beyazid II commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to design a bridge to span the Golden Horn in 1503, only 50 years after the city was captured from the Byzantines. The great artist and engineer did the design, showing a single span bridge with double pillars at either end, 350 m long and 24 m wide but alas the bridge was never built.
View of Karaköy from the restaurant level.

Another Italian artist, Michelangelo was invited to design a bridge for Istanbul. Michelangelo rejected the proposal, and the idea of building a bridge here was shelved until the 19th century. In the early 19th century Mahmut II (1808-1839) had a bridge built at some distance up the waterway between Azapkapi and Unkapani. This bridge, known as the Hayratiye, was opened on 3 September 1836. The project was carried out by Deputy Lord High Admiral Fevzi Ahmet Pasa using the workers and facilities of the naval arsenal. According to the History of Lutfi this bridge was built on linked pontoons and was around 500 to 540 m long.

Karaköy's hotels and restaurants.

The first Galata Bridge at the mouth of the waterway was constructed in 1845 by the mother of Sultan Abdulmecid and used for 18 years. It was known as the Cisr-i Cedid or New Bridge to distinguish it from the earlier bridge further up the Golden Horn, which became known as the Cisr-i Atik or Old Bridge.

  View of Haya Sophia from Galata's bridge cafe.
The New Bridge was built by Abdulmecid Han. First to pass over the bridge was Sultan Abdulmecid, and the first to pass below it was the French captain Magnan in his ship the Cygne. For the first three days crossing the bridge was free, after which a toll known as mürüriye was paid to the Naval Ministry. 
This was replaced by a second wooden bridge in 1863, built by Ethem Pertev Pasa on the orders of Sultan Abdulaziz in readiness for the visit to Istanbul of Napoleon III.

Turkish woman walking from Eminönu to Karaköy with the New Mosque as background.

In 1870 a contract was signed with a French company, Forges et Chantiers de la Mediteranée for construction of a third bridge, but the outbreak of war between France and Germany delayed the project, which was given instead to a British firm G. Wells in 1872. This bridge completed in 1875 was 480 m long and 14 m wide and rested on 24 pontoons. It was built at a cost of 105,000 gold liras. This was used until 1912, when it was pulled upstream to replace the now genuinely old Cisr-i Atik Bridge.

  Fishermen. View from Karaköy.
The fourth Galata Bridge was built in 1912 by the German Man firm for 350,000 gold lira. This bridge was 466 m long and 25 m wide. It is the bridge still familiar to many people today that was badly damaged in a fire in 1992 and towed up the Golden Horn to make way for the modern bridge now in use.

View of the New Mosque view from Galata bridge.

The present Galata Bridge, built in 1992, replaced a much-loved pontoon bridge dating from 1912 that gently swayed and rolled as the seas moved beneath it.

View of Karaköy Iskelesi from Galata's bridge cafe.

Pipes from Dersaadet Cafe at Galata Tower. 
Fisherman with Galata Tower background.
Fisherman at Galata bridge with Galata tower as background.

Karaköy Iskelesi view of Haya Sophia.

Fisherman unhanging fish : )

View of Karaköy from restaurant level at Galata bridge.

View of Eminönu (Süleymaniye mosque) from Galata bridge.

View of the new metro bridge from Galata bridge.

 Fisherman with Süleymaniye mosque background.

Fisherman at Galata Bridge.

Fisherman with Galata tower as background.

Eminonu's view from Galata's bridge.

Eminönu's view from Galata bridge. (Süleymaniye mosque and Rüstem Paşa Camii)

  Galata tower from Eminönu.

I wish you all a year full of light and great moments. I hope this year I can share many more great phototreks with you and grow as a photographer, learn new techniques, change perspectives and be amazed by the beauty around us.
Soreya Reyes

Ps. If you are interested in a photo guide trek in Istanbul inbox for more info: