MAIDEN’S TOWER THROUGHOUT THE HISTORY
This unique tower with a history dating back to 2500 years, has eye - witnessed everything that the city has encountered throughout the history. This tower has been erected during the ancient age and constructed by renovations from the ages of the Ancient Rome, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire, the tower has reached to present time with its mysterious appearance.
Maiden’s Tower at B.C
The island that the Maiden’s Tower is located on was just a small mull from Asian shores and it drifted apart forming the present image of the island.
The first notes about the tower dates long way back to B.C. 410. During those days, the Athenian commander Alkibiades, constructed a small tower on this island in order to control the passage of boats from Bosphorus and tariff their journey. From the cape in the ancient city of Istanbul called “Sarayburnu” uniting the Golden Horn to the Marmara sea to the island, a long chain was stretched so that the tower was handled as a customs station controlling the entrance and departure from Bosphorus.
After many years in B.C. 341, dedicated especially on the honor of his wife, Greek commanderAfter many years in B.C. 341, dedicated especially on the honor of his wife, Greek commander Charles built a mausoleum over marble columns on this island.
The first specific structure of the tower was constructed by Emperor Manuel Commenos in A.D. 1110.
Emperor Manuel asked the construction of two watchtowers for defending the city. One built near to the Mangana Abbey (at the shore of Topkapi Palace) and the second one at the island where Maiden’s Tower is located on currently. Emperor Manuel constrained a chain between these two towers to block the entrance of enemy boats to Bosphorus and prevent the entrance without paying the custom tariffs.
Damaged many times throughout the history and reconstructed again, Maiden’s TowerDamaged many times throughout the history and reconstructed again, Maiden’s Tower was used as an installation by Venetians during the conquest of Istanbul. Under the command of Gabrial Treviziano from Venice, a fleet located their operation command center to Maiden’s Tower in order to support Byzantine effectively.
After the conquest of Istanbul in 1453, Fatih Sultan Mehmet asked that tower to be rebuilt as a stone building and placed artillery inside for defending the city from enemy boats crossing over Bosphorus. However, during Ottoman Empire, the tower used more as a manifestation platform than a defense tower and Janissary band played anthem along with artillery shootings there. The recent structure of the tower including the stereobate and the ground floor layout are mainly left from Fatih period.
It is known that Maiden’s Tower was reconstructed and went through many renewal functions during Ottoman Empire. After one of the biggest earthquakes of Istanbul in 1510, known as “little doomsday”, Maiden’s Tower experienced serious damages as other structures in Istanbul and thethe reconstruction process was proceeded during the period of Yavuz Sultan Selim.
Since the sea level around the island that Maiden’s Tower is located on is very shallow, a lighthouse was placed over the island and the duty of the tower switched from a defense castle to a lighthouse, cautioning boats passing from Bosphorus. The loopholes on the island were no more fired for defense but for salutation during celebrations. During the arrival of Prince Selim to Istanbul for ascending to the throne after the death of Kanuni Sultan Suleyman, he was welcomed by salvo fire. Since then the ceremony was settled as a tradition for throne announcements to the public.
Maiden’s Tower was a stone building with wooden inner design. In 1719, the inner part of the tower was all burned down due to oil lamb inflamed by the strong wind and it was renovated by the head architect of the city named Damat Ibrahim Paşa from Nevsehir in 1725. During the restoration process, a leaden dome and a stone lighthouse was added to the tower. Again in 1731, the lighthouse, loopholes and some other parts went through a restoration.
During the collapse period of Ottoman Empire, Maiden’s Tower again began to be used as a defense castle and artillery shootings done only for defending the city.
Between the years 1830 – 1831, the tower turned to be a quarantine area in order to prevent the expansion of epidemic cholera into the city. Afterwards, between the years 1836 – 1837, great plaque caused the death of 20 – 30 thousand citizens and some of the patients were kept in the hospital positioned in Maiden’s Tower for safety precautions.
The ultimate restoration was carried out during the Ottoman Empire between 1832-1833 and the writing of famous calligrapher named Rakim together with the epigraph that carries the signature of Sultan Mahmut amous calligrapher named Rakim together with the epigraph that carries the signature of Sultan Mahmut the second were placed to the marble at the top of the tower’s door. The restoration was made in Ottoman - baroque style and a slotted dome with a flagpole were added to the tower.
Then in 1857 a new lighthouse was reconstructed by a French company.
During the period of Second World War, again the tower experienced a restoration process; the rotted wood parts were fixed and some of the sections were reinforced the concrete building structure.
In 1943, boulders were placed around the surrounding of Maiden’s Tower to prevent the tower to slide towards the sea. Also the warehouses and gas yards were all cleared away from the surrounding of the island.
In 1959 Maiden’s Tower was alienated to military; Turkish naval forces command and began to be used as a radar station controlling the sea and air navigation. In 1983, the tower was left to the management of maritime lines and handled as an en route station.
Maiden’s Tower in present time….
The tower called as Arcla (little tower) and Damilias (veal) during the ancient age, also made a reputation by the name of “Tour de Leandros” through out the history and currently it is recalled by the name of Maiden’s Tower.
In 1995, Hamoglu Holding Company received the management rights of the tower for 49 years. After the restoration adequate to its characteristics and traditional architecture was completed, Maiden's Tower opened its doors to the public for the first time in 2000. Now Maiden's Tower welcomes you in a charming atmosphere where it serves as a café – restaurant during the day time, a special restaurant in the evenings and a unique venue for gala dinners, weddings, launch cocktails and any kind of private events you may ever dream of… So why not step a foot on it and seize the legend for yourself?