The Kızkulesi, also known as Maiden’s Tower or Leander’s Tower, is built on a small rocky island located in the middle of the sea near Üsküdar, where the Marmara Sea meets the Bosphorus. The tower has a long history of being used for various purposes, dating back to 2500 years ago. Throughout the centuries, it has been a witness to the history of Istanbul, from ancient times to the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman period.

According to the sayings of Rum researcher Evripid, the island that the Maiden’s Tower sits on was originally connected to the Asian coast but separated over time. The first recorded mention of the island was in 410 AD, when Athenian commander Alkibiades built a castle on it to control naval traffic and use it as a customs office. Later, in 341 AD, Greek commander Chares built a grave for his wife on the marble pillars of the island.

The Aims of Maiden’s Tower

  1. A Tomb: It is believed that the tower was originally built as a mausoleum for the wife of the commander Chares, though some sources suggest that it was located in the seaside town of Salacak in Usküdar, Istanbul.
  2. A Castle: Athenian commander Alkibiades converted the tower into a castle by using chains to control the Spartans at the end of the war between Athens and Spartans in A.D. 411.
  3. A Tower: In the 1100s, Byzantine Emperor Manuel Comnenos (1143-1178) built the first tower structure, named “Arcla” (meaning “little tower”), as a defense tower.
  4. A Hospital: During the cholera epidemic of 1830, Maiden’s Tower was used as an isolation hospital to protect healthy individuals from the sick.
  5. A Customs House: It is known that Athenian commander Alkibiades collected customs taxes by controlling the entrance and exit of the Bosphorus and using chains on both sides.
  6. A Store: After the Sea Route Stores were demolished in 1990, cyanide, a substance used to kill mice and insects, was stored in Maiden’s Tower. However, it was later removed due to disturbance to the personnel.
  7. A Defense: When Fatih Sultan Mehmet conquered Istanbul, the tower was used by Byzantines to control the entrance from the Marmara Sea.
  8. A Lighthouse: The tower has also served as a lighthouse from ancient times.


Another legend about Maiden’s Tower is the story of Battal Gazi. According to this legend, Battal Gazi was a Turkish hero who fell in love with a girl when he came to surround Istanbul (Constantinople). After he failed to take the city, he set up camp on Maiden’s Tower and stayed there for seven years.

The legend says that he stayed for seven years because he was in love with the daughter of the landlord. The landlord, fearing that Battal Gazi would abduct his daughter, put her in prison in the tower. But in the end, Battal Gazi managed to escape with the girl and also took the landlord’s treasure.

This legend gave rise to the idiom “early bird catches the worm” (Atı alan Üsküdarı geçti in Turkish) which means that the one who acts quickly and decisively will be successful.

The Legend of Leandros is a tragic love story. Leandros, a mortal, falls in love with a nun named Hero who is devoted to the goddess Aphrodite. However, as a nun, Hero is not allowed to love anyone. She lives in the Maiden’s Tower and every night she lights a fire to guide Leandros to her. They meet every night, but one night, a storm extinguishes the fire, and Leandros loses his way and drowns in the cold waters of the Bosphorus. Heartbroken, Hero takes her own life.

Another legend is the Princess Legend. Once upon a time, a soothsayer predicts that the king’s daughter will die from a snakebite. In an attempt to protect her, the king has a castle built in the sea for her to live in. As she grows up, the prediction comes true and the princess is killed by a snake that was hiding in a fruit basket brought to her.


  1. Unique Location: The Kizkulesi is located on a small rocky island in the middle of the sea, where the Marmara Sea meets the Bosphorus. The tower is surrounded by beautiful views of the sea and the city, making it a unique location to visit.
  2. Rich History: The tower has a long history dating back to 2500 years ago, and it has been used for various purposes throughout the centuries. The tower has been a witness to the history of Istanbul, from ancient times to the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman period.
  3. Interesting Legends: The tower is also known for its interesting legends and stories, such as the legend of Battal Gazi and the Legend of Leandros. These legends add an extra layer of intrigue to the tower, making it even more fascinating to visit.
  4. Cultural Significance: Kizkulesi is a cultural icon of Istanbul, it has been depicted in various works of art, literature and featured in movies and television series.
  5. A Great Addition to a Tour of Istanbul: Kizkulesi is a great addition to any tour of Istanbul. It is easy to get to, and it’s a great way to experience the beauty of Istanbul’s sea and the rich history and culture of the city.

Experience the rich history and cultural significance of Kizkulesi on one of our tours, book your tour now with Tour Maker Turkey!