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:

1 comment:

  1. Querida Soreya, tus fotos son increibles!! No solo muestran los lugares pero transmiten mucho mas...Tienes un ojo unico!