Maiden’s Tower: A Captivating Landmark in Istanbul

The Maiden’s Tower, also known as Kız Kulesi, is one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks. With a history dating back to ancient times, it has seen empires rise and fall, and its story is deeply intertwined with the city’s own history. From legends about lovelorn maidens to tales of sea monsters and giant snakes, the tower has captured the imagination of many throughout the centuries.

In this blog, we will take you on a journey through time as we explore the fascinating history of the Maiden’s Tower. We will also give you practical information on how to get there, what to do once you’re there. So sit back, relax, and let’s dive into the world of one of Istanbul’s most beloved landmarks!

History of the Maiden’s Tower

History of maiden tower istanbul

Maiden’s Tower, also known as Leander’s Tower, is a prominent Istanbul landmark that has a rich history dating back to 1110 when Emperor Alexios I Komnenos built a wooden tower on the site. Since then, it has undergone several restorations, but on the first week of May 2023, the tower will meet with the people all around the world again!

“Kız Kulesi” has played various roles throughout history, such as serving as a lighthouse, quarantine hospital, customs building, retirement home, radio station, and barracks.

The Maiden’s Tower is also associated with many legends and stories. One famous legend tells of an emperor who locked his daughter in the tower to protect her from a prophecy that she would die from a snake bite. Despite his efforts, the prophecy came true when a snake hidden in a basket of fruit bit her. The tower itself was destroyed by an earthquake in 1509 and later burnt down in 1721 before being rebuilt. Today it stands tall and proud as one of Istanbul’s most iconic landmarks.

What is the story of the Maiden Tower?

The Maiden Tower, located on a small island in the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul, has a rich and intriguing history. The tower dates back to ancient times when it was used for various purposes such as a watchtower and lighthouse.

However, what makes the Maiden’s Tower truly fascinating are the many legends associated with it.

  • Battal Gazi: As the legends say; seeing Battal Gazi, who was stationed across the city, the Byzantine Leader was alarmed and hid his treasures and his daughter in this tower. But Battal Gazi, who captured the tower, takes both the treasures and the princess and continues on his way by passing Üsküdar with his horse. It is rumored that the origin of the phrase “the one who took the horse has passed Üsküdar” is this event.
  • One of the most famous legends tells the story of Leandros, who fell in love with a girl named Hero and swam to the tower every night guided by her light. Some people call tower of Leandros based on this story.
  • The most known of the legends told about the tower; It is the story of the king and his daughter. The king, who was warned by a fortune teller that his daughter would die due to a snakebite, had the Maiden’s Tower built on the rocks off Salacak in order to protect his daughter and placed her daughter in this tower.
    The king sends various foods to his daughter in a basket at certain times, and one day the snake hidden in the fruit basket poisons the king’s daughter, causing her to die.

These stories have made the Maiden’s Tower an important symbol of Istanbul, and visitors come from all over the world to experience its mystical beauty and hear its legendary tales.

Maiden’s Tower at Ottoman Period

16th century ottoman, bosphorus map

The Maiden’s Tower, also known as Leander’s Tower since the medieval Byzantine period, is a tower that sits on a small island at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus Strait. It was built around 410 BC as a customs checkpoint to control the waterway. Kız Kulesi has had various uses throughout history, ranging from a watchtower to a lighthouse.

The last Byzantine structure in Üsküdar District, the tower stands about 18 meters high and consists of five floors. Over time it has been restored and renovated many times, including being rebuilt in Ottoman-Baroque architectural style after a major restoration in 1833. Today, the Maiden’s Tower is one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist attractions with visitors coming from all over to experience its rich cultural history and stunning views of the Bosphorus.

Maiden’s Tower in Popular Culture

During the Ottoman period, Maiden’s Tower served as a fortress and watchtower to protect the city of Istanbul. Over time, it has become a popular tourist destination and can be visited by visitors from all over the world. With its stunning views of the Bosphorus Strait and its unique history, it is no wonder that Maiden’s Tower has become such an iconic landmark.

Maiden’s Tower has also appeared in a number of popular culture references, including TV shows and movies. It has been featured in James Bond films and is often used as a symbol of Istanbul in popular culture. Whether you are interested in history or simply want to enjoy the stunning views, a visit to Maiden’s Tower is a must for anyone visiting Istanbul.

Historical Facts & Info about Maiden’s Tower

Bosphorus map by nasuh

The Maiden’s Tower is an iconic symbol of Istanbul, Turkey. Located in the Bosphorus Strait off Asia, it dates back to the 4th century and has a rich history as a Byzantine tollbooth and Ottoman lighthouse. The tower was also depicted on Turkish 10 lira banknotes from 1966-1981 and featured prominently in Istanbul’s unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics logo. Despite its age, the tower remains well-preserved and continues to attract visitors from all over the world who are interested in learning about its fascinating history.

Things to Do in Maiden’s Tower

view from maidens tower istanbul

Maiden’s Tower is a popular tourist spot in Istanbul that offers a range of activities for visitors. It is also an excellent choice for those looking for summer activities, palace tours, or water sports. However, visitors should note that the tower will be under restoration from September 2021 through to the end of April 2022.

Maiden’s Tower offers activities for couples, family outings, romance & special occasions, and deals & discounts. Whatever your interests may be, Maiden’s Tower has something to offer you!

How do you get to Maiden’s Tower?

Ferry to maiden tower

Maiden’s Tower is situated on a small island at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait, one of Istanbul’s most popular tourist destinations. The easiest way to get to the island is by taking a shuttle boat from Üsküdar-Salacak on the Asian side of Istanbul.

These boats operate every 15 minutes and will take you directly to the landmark. For those who want an unforgettable experience, Istanbul Welcome Card offers a 1-hour yacht cruise around Maiden Tower that brings visitors up close to the tower. Another option is taking a one-hour boat ride from the European side of Istanbul, which won’t take you directly to the island but will circle around the Maiden’s Tower, providing plenty of photo opportunities and a close look at this legendary tower. Whatever your choice may be, you’re sure to have an incredible time exploring Kız Kulesi!

Entrance, Tickets & Tours to Maiden’s Tower

Maiden's Tower Istanbul

Photos Credit: @kizkulesi

Maiden’s Tower is an iconic tourist attraction in Istanbul that can be accessed by taking a shuttle boat from Üsküdar-Salacak or a service boat from Kabataş. Discounted tickets are available for students and elderly people over 60, and those who want to make efficient use of their time can consider a Bosphorus Boat Tour that includes the Maiden’s Tower as one of its stops. Currently, due to the closure of the Maiden’s Tower, entry tickets are not available. However, guided tours are offered by Istanbul Welcome Card on a 1-hour ferry ride. Visitors also have a chance to explore other top attractions such as Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque, and Golden Horn during this ferry ride while enjoying a hot beverage.


Maiden’s Tower is a historic landmark, rich in history and legends. From its origins as a defense tower to its use as a lighthouse and quarantine station, the tower has a fascinating tale to tell. There are many popular legends surrounding the Maiden’s Tower, including stories of star-crossed lovers and magical creatures which makes it a must-see place in Istanbul, Turkiye. For more attractions you can check our blog on 10 days itinerary in Istanbul!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get to maidens tower?

To get to Maiden's Tower, you can take a ferry from Kabatas or Uskudar in Istanbul. Alternatively, you can also take a private boat tour that includes a stop at the tower.

Why is Maiden's Tower in Istanbul so famous?

Maiden's Tower in Istanbul is famous for its rich history and unique architecture. The tower has served as a lighthouse, a watchtower, and even a quarantine station throughout the centuries. Legends and myths surrounding the tower have also contributed to its fame, including a story about a princess who was prophesied to die from a snake bite and was brought to the tower for protection. Today, Maiden's Tower is a popular tourist attraction known for its stunning views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus Strait.

What is the story of Maiden's Tower in Istanbul?

The Maiden's Tower, also known as Kız Kulesi in Turkish, is a historic tower located on a small islet at the entrance of the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, Turkey. The tower has a long and fascinating history dating back to ancient times. According to legend, it was built by an emperor who wanted to protect his daughter from a prophecy that she would be bitten by a snake and die on her 18th birthday. The emperor built the tower to keep his daughter safe from harm, but unfortunately, she was bitten by a snake that had found its way into the tower on her 18th birthday.

What are the highlights of Maiden’s Tower in Istanbul?

Maiden's Tower is a historic tower located off the coast of Üsküdar in Istanbul, Turkey. Some highlights of the tower include its rich history and legends surrounding it, its stunning views of the Bosphorus and Istanbul skyline, and its role as a tourist attraction and event venue. The tower has served various purposes over the years, including as a lighthouse, military defense post, quarantine station, and restaurant. Visitors can explore the tower's museum exhibits and enjoy panoramic views from its observation deck while learning about its fascinating past.
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Simge Sor

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list.
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