The Maiden’s Tower is located 150-200 meters off the shore of the Salacak district in Üsküdar. Although it is not definite as to when the Maiden’s Tower was built, the tower’s architectural style is said by some sources to be from around 340 BCE.
Previous names of the Maiden’s Tower were Damalis and Leandros. Damalis is the name of the wife of the king of Athens,Kharis. When Damalis died, she was buried on the shore, and the name Damalis was given to the Tower. It was also known during Byzantine times as “arcla” which means “a little castle.”
After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Turks, the tower was pulled down and a wooden tower was constructed in its place. The wooden tower was destroyed by a fire in 1719. It was rebuilt from stone once again by the head architect of the city, Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa. The cone-capped part of the tower was taken away and a kiosk fitted with glass replaced it. A lead-covered dome was later added to the kiosk. Rakım Efendi, a famous calligrapher, added an inscription with Sultan Mahmut II’s signature on marble and placed it above tower’s door. A lantern was added to the tower in 1857, and in 1920, the tower’s light was a converted into an automatic lighting system.
The Maiden’s Tower has been used for many different purposes over time, such as a tax collection area from merchantman, a defense tower, and a lighthouse. During the cholera epidemic in 1830, it was used as a quarantine hospital and radio station. During the Republic Period, it was again used as a light house for a little while. The tower was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in 1964 and then to Maritime Enterprises in 1982. It has undergone renovations and presently functions as a restaurant open to the public owned by a private company.
After 1995, Maiden Tower is rented by Hamoğlu Holding for 49 years from Ministry of Tourism and Information and restoration was started immediately.
While restoration was continunig , some loophole were arosed.During restoration some additions which were not taken part in initial state.
Maiden’s Tower opens by Hamoğlu holding after faithful restoration at 2000 and then it becomes a popular and brightly place of İstanbul.
HERO & LEANDROS
Although this ancient story (500BCE) is commonly thought to have occurred in the Dardanelles or Hellespont on the other side of the sea of Marmara, this tower has been called Leanders Tower in Europe and the west for at least 400 years. Hero, a priestess sworn to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was sequestered here to ensure her sanctity. Leander somehow encountered her perhaps by passing in a boat, and fell fatally in love. Swimming to the tower ,he gradually won the love of Hero and their nightly meetings began. Hero lit a torch at the top of her tower every night to guide Leanders long swim. One stormy night, the wind blew out the torch, Leander lost his way and exhauster, perished beneath the waves. His body washed upon the rocks of this island, and Hero, seeing this was distraught and heartbroken so much, so that she leapt from the tower to her death, thus ensuring the immortality of their love.
LEGEND OF SNEAKE
A sultan had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophecised that she would be stung to death by a venomous snake bite on her 18th birthday. The sultan, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise by placing her away from land so as to keep her away from any snakes, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until after her 18th birthday. The daughter was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father. On the daughter's 18th birthday, the sultan had her brought a basket of exotic sumptouous fruit as a birthday gift, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding amongst the fruit bites the young woman and she dies in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.
LEGEND OF BATTAL GAZİ
" He who rides the Horse has already passed Uskudar"
The exploits of this 8th century historical figure have passed into legend here in Turkey. Battal Gazi was a general in the second Ottoman invasion of Constantinople during the mid 8th century and He and his army were a constant irritant to the Byzantine Empire. Among the many heroic events attributed to him is the one depicted here. During the invasion the Byzantine Emperor placed his family in Kiz Kulesi and surrounded the tower with ships to ensure their safety. Battal Gazi however, having met and fallen in love with one of the Emperors Daughters (and She with Him) raided the tower, set the ships afire and took the maiden Princess. Placing Her on his Charger, he rode away into legend, ultimately marrying her. This moment has given rise to a famous Turkish saying "Atı alan Üsküdar'ı geçti" which translated means, "He who rides the Horse has already passed Uskudar" , roughly akin to the english "the horse is out of the barn". There are many disputed sites for the tomb of Battal Gazi and his Princess, so perhaps he is still with us in the incredible spirit of Turkish society!.