For a long time, I've wanted to visit the territory of the Maiden's Tower in Istanbul, but it didn't work out: the landmark was closed for reconstruction for an extended period. Later, even after the complex opened for tourists, it was still challenging to get in due to long queues. Choosing one of the gloomy weekdays, I finally decided to try my luck and had the opportunity to see this unique structure from the inside. I'm sharing its photos with you.
How to get to the complex territory
The tower is located near the Uskudar pier on the Asian side of the city. You can reach here by ferry or metro. The journey from the stops to the ferry to the tower will take about ten minutes.
The cost of visiting in the summer of 2023 was 600 liras. This included 550 liras for the sightseeing plus 50 liras for the ferry. Interestingly, these 50 liras are charged even for museum card holders.
According to the museum's official website, ferries also depart to the tower from Istanbul's Galataport.
A bit of history
The history of the Maiden's Tower dates back to ancient times. In the 4th century BCE, a small fort with a customs point appeared at its location. Taxes were collected here from transportation traveling between the Marble and Black Seas.
In the 12th century, a tower was built on the island. To control the passage of ships through the Bosphorus, a chain was stretched from here to the European part of the city, following the waterway. A similar defensive object, by the way, also blocked the Golden Horn.
After the fall of Constantinople, the structure on the island was rebuilt. During solemn ceremonies, holidays, and sultan coronations, cannons were fired from here. During one of the celebrations, the tower was nearly destroyed by fire, but it was soon reconstructed.
From the beginning of the 19th century, the tower acquired its modern outline. At this time, it began to be used as a lighthouse. It's worth noting that the construction served various functions at different periods. For instance, during a plague epidemic in the 1830s, a quarantine hospital was set up here. In the past century, a radar station operated on the landmark's territory.
The Maiden's Tower is known to many tourists due to widespread legends associated with its history. The most famous one suggests that a ruler of these lands was once predicted that his daughter would die from a snakebite. To protect his child, he confined the girl to the tower on the island. Despite all efforts, the unfortunate girl still died from a snakebite: the venomous creature hid in a basket of fruit handed to the girl by her own father.
There are other fantastic stories related to the tower. Some also involve sultan's daughters locked here, while others tell of a young man who leaped into the water from here for love. There are even stranger narratives in which the Maiden's and Galata Towers fall in love with each other, with the latter dedicating letters and poems to its beloved.
Today, a small exhibition operates on the island. Visitors can climb to the upper levels of the structure, take photos of beautiful Istanbul, or simply relax in the café located on the building's ground floor.
As a farewell, I'll leave a link to my story about the aforementioned Galata Tower, which is also one of the most recognizable symbols of this ancient city.
Have a nice trip!