One of the main postcards of Istanbul is the Maiden Tower, also called Leander Tower. The tower stands on a kind of island in the middle of the Bosphorus, a little over 200 meters from the Asian part of the city and the Üsküdar district.
The construction of the Virgin Tower began in 1110, when Istanbul did not even dream of being called that. The tower was a kind of customs post for ships arriving from the Black Sea (the Bosphorus Strait connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Marmara) and was initially only a wooden structure.
There are several legends about the Maiden Tower, but the two main ones are the ones that gave it its name. The most famous of these is the myth of the Maiden Tower, which tells of a famous emperor who received a prophecy that his daughter would be killed on her 18th birthday.
Fearing the death of his daughter, he decided to build a tower in the middle of the sea, to avoid the risk of someone coming to harm his daughter, and every day he took his little boat to visit his daughter. One day, when his daughter was already grown up, during one of his visits she received a basket of figs and inside the basket a snake bit her and she ended up dying. In the end, the overprotection of her parents was useless.
Although this is one of the most famous images of Istanbul, it is not a place that is very popular with tourists, and even though it is a small place, it is quite easy to visit and is not too crowded. The truth is that many people who visit Istanbul don’t go to the Asian part of the city, so many people don’t know where this tower is and end up not visiting it.
Visit the tower
Inside the tower, there is a restaurant and a memorial which is actually just paintings on the wall depicting the myth of the maiden tower/Leander tower in three different versions. On the top floor there is a cafe with a great view, you can see the Bosphorus, the Asian part and the European part, and many sites of the city. Of course, it is a more expensive cafe than other places, but the beautiful view of the place is worth it, and if you can catch a sunset then…
How to get there
To get there, you have to go to Uskudar, in the Asian part, and from there, walk a bit to almost the front of the tower, where you will see a kiosk selling tickets for the boat ride to the tower. The crossing is quite quick and takes just over 5 minutes. Another option is to take the boat from Kabatas directly to the tower, but it is less frequent than the one from Uskudar.
Salacak, 34668 Üsküdar İstanbul, Turkey