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MAIDEN'S TOWER


 

The architectural structure of the Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi) dates back to 341 BC. This cape, which was an extension of the Bosphorous straits at the time (there are rumours that it was a peninsula before) used to be called "vus". At this date, after being a mausoleum built on marble columns for the wife of Commander Chares, a chain was pulled from its location at Sarayburnu to the island where the tower was located, in 410 BC, to make it a customs area controlling the entries and exits of the Bosphorous strait. At 1110 AD, the first apparent structure (tower) was built by the Emperor Manuel Comnenos.

This structure, which was built as a defence tower, was named Arcla, meaning "Small Tower". Although there is no clear information about this structure, it is believed to be close to its current dimensions. The tower, which was used for defence purposes during the conquest of İstanbul, was used for very different purposes after 1453. During the Ottoman period, it was used rather as a show platform, than a defence team and the Mehteran team cited the nevbet (a national anthem) accompanied by the canons placed on the island. The structure, which was damaged during the earthquake of 1509, was rebuilt later. Furthermore, it acted as a lighthouse with the lights that were added. The structure that was built then included a tower and a castle, and a cistern was built in it. The tower that burnt down with the fire from the light, in 1719, was repaired again in 1725 by the Head Architect of the city, Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa. The tower section was changed a little, and a glass chalet was added to the top, and a lead dome was placed on it, and the building was built with wood. It was converted into a quarantine hospital in order for the cholera epidemic not to spread to the city in 1830. It was started to be used as a defence castle again with the decline of the Ottoman Empire, and it is equipped with canons. The epigraph bearing the signature of Sultan Mahmut the Second was placed on the marble above the gate, with the handwriting of the famous calligrapher Rakim. In 1857, a light is added again, and in 1920, an automatic system is introduced as the light of the lighthouse. It is thought of transferring this building to private sector as of 1992, and several institutions such as the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Üsküdar Municipality, Chamber of Architects, Şairler, Turing, Ulusoy Group of Companies, etc. develop various mediatic projects...



 
 
Legends:

As the Maiden's Tower was remote and inaccessible, people did not have much information about what was lived in it, and they sufficed with telling interesting stories about the inside, and imagining. The first story about the Maiden's Tower was a love story told by Ovidius. This story, relating to the sad love of Hero and Leandros, begins with Hero leaving the tower. Hero is one of the holy women of Aphrodite, and love is banned for her.

She leaves the tower years later to attend a ceremony to be held at the Aphrodite temple, and there she meets Leandros. These two youngsters in love with each other, bless their love with Leandros visiting the tower at nights. The Maiden's Tower witnesses the devotion and the forbidden love of these two young people every night. On a stormy night when Leandros was swimming to the tower, the love light that Hero burnt was put out. Leandros losing his way in the darkens is buried in the waters of the Bosphorous. Hero, seeing that her lover dies, lets herself in the arms of the waters as well. Other than this story on lovers that cannot meet, there is a snake story, similar to the Cleopatra's end. According to a prophecy, a king is to lose her beloved daughter at the age of eighteen, with a snakebite. Therefore, the king has this tower in the middle of the sea repaired, and places his daughter here. Proving that the fate cannot be escaped, a snake emerging from a grape basket sent to the tower, empties its poison to the princess. The king has an iron vault prepared for his daughter and places it above the gate of Hagia Sophia. The last story is from the Ottoman times. It is the story about Battal Gazi raiding the Maiden Tower with his soldiers and taking away the hidden treasures and the daughter of Üsküdar Tekfur (Governor). Battal Gazi took the daughter of the tekfur and the treasury, and rode away from Üsküdar, on his horse. The expression "Atı alan Üsküdar'ı geçti" (He who took the horse is already past Üsküdar) is a reflection of this story. Another aspect of this story coming to the present is about the name of this tower. In reference also to the princesses in other legends, Turks named this tower Kız-Kulesi (the maiden's tower). The tower, which was called as Arkla (small castle) in the Antiquity and Damialis (calf), was also famous with the name Tour Leandros. Currently it is "Kızkulesi" (the Maiden's Tower), and known with this name.

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