Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Falling in Love with the Maiden's Tower

The Maiden's Tower or Leander's Tower at sunset.
(Copyright: Hakanirfan @ flickriver.com/photos/hakanirfan)

Just after sunset on the Bosphorus, the Maiden’s Tower glows with light that seems to radiate from the moon. Historically, the Maiden’s Tower was built as a lighthouse to guide Persian ships within the narrow Bosphorus straight. Yet the legends of this Tower come from both Turkish and Greek culture and tell stories of the power and force of love – whether love of a father for his daughter, or love of a man and maiden. Today, we can say that the Maiden’s Tower is a symbol of the hope and light of love, whether to unite societies or unite hearts.

Yes, the Maiden's Tower, or Kız Kulesi in Turkish, inspires romance.  Perhaps it is how the light sends a glimmering path across the water that beckons to travelers and commuters as they whisk by on a night ferry.  Or perhaps the legends enchant us and allow us to see the Maiden's Tower as something abnormal, more than just a simple lighthouse.

The view from the ferry as we passed the Maiden's Tower heading to the wrong neighborhood (by mistake)
 For me, I felt the pull of the Maiden's Tower before knowing the history behind the beacon of light.  Yet, on this past trip to Istanbul, I formed a deeper bond with this cultural monument as I experienced the romance up close and personal as we sat cuddling with blankets on the cushioned concrete steps just across from the Kız Kulesi.  After a warm meal of köfte, we headed out to walk along the water and find the perfect spot to sit and order a tea.  As it was near eight at night with chilling temperatures, there were many seats to choose from.  Although during warmer weather, the steps and tables are full of Istanbulites enjoying a bit of romance with their evening tea.

Not a bad place to have a glass of tea.
 We found a nice spot right across from the Tower and huddled in under the blankets.  Soon we had a hot tea to hold and warm our frosty fingers.  A gypsy woman and young girl passed by with roses in hand, but it seemed that they were done for the night, because we were not offered their wares for sale.  A pair of couples sat at a nearby table, chatting, drinking tea and smoking sweet tobacco in a water pipe.  We watched as the large, dark ships passed by behind the Tower and I wondered what they carried and to whom.

Keeping warm with hot tea and cozy blankets.
 Soon we had emptied our tea glasses and we realized that our time was running out to make it back to the last ferry that would take us to the European side of Istanbul.  So we unfolded from the warm blankets and said goodbye to the Maiden and walked with lighter steps, and warmer hearts and hands back to the ferry.

Romance at its finest - watching boats pass in the night and the city of Istanbul glow in the background.

To visit the Maiden's Tower up close, from the European side of Istanbul take a ferry to Üsküdar, a neighborhood on the Asian side of Istanbul.  From there, walk along the road until you reach the stretch of Bosphorus with outdoor seating in front of the Tower.  There are also many great restaurants in this area, making it a perfect place for a date! 


  1. Such a sweet night and story! Romantic, indeed. Just curious, did you bring your own blankets or were they available at the tea garden?

    1. Thanks for the comment! They had fleece blankets available where we sat, but it didn't seem like all the tea gardens had them. While some might be squeamish about using public blankets, they seemed fairly clean!

  2. Such a wonderful, romantic moment, and reflection on this version of the Kız Kalesi!!!!!!

    I'm always amazed at the availability of blankets and or pashmina wraps at lokantas - even in the height of summer. Gets back to that fear of chills and drafts, doesn't it!


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