Photo: Hayri Çalışkan
There are countless legends about the tower. The best known is this: A princess was locked up in the tower by her father because of a prophecy. The prophecy warned him saying that his daughter would die due to the bite of a snake. The Emperor wanted to protect the princess and built a tower in the sea and put his daughter in it to save her life. However one day a snake, hidden in a basket of grapes that had been sent to the princess bit her and she died. The prophecy came true.
Kız Kulesi, one of the symbols of Istanbul, was built to control the strategic passageway of the Bosphorus and to collect a passage fee (you may call it tribute) from the ships. Appearing small from afar, though in actuality not so small, it was a point of security according to the famous Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi and was protected at times by up to 100 soldiers and 40 cannons.
During the Golden Age of the Ottoman Empire it lost this function and became one of the ornaments of the city. Foreign officers have been entertained here; cannon balls are fired on special days such as the acceding of Sultans and during Bayrams. The tower also served as a lighthouse and often saved the ships that might otherwise get carried away by the strong currents. It was somehow ruined during the İstanbul fire in the 18th century and then restored by Grand Vizier Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa. A panoramic glassed kiosk was also built.
The upper part of devastated tower was converted to concrete in 1943. The tower was used heaviyl by the Ministries of Transportation and Defense and Turkish Maritime and has been left alone since 1992. In 1995 it was assigned to Hamoğlu Holding and began to serve as a café and restaurant in 2000. However before opening to public the complex restoration of the tower was the cause of many heated debates between Istanbul lovers. The restoration and environmental changes have been critisized as not being suitable or in-line with its original design. Particularly the flattening of the rocks on which the tower was raised has received the most criticism. But due to this restoration the damage caused by Marmara Earthquake in 1999 has now been repaired.
Today you can eat, drink or enjoy the exquisite Marmara and Bosphorus panoramic view from its terrace. Don't miss one of the best sunsets in this enchanting city. It is closed to the public on Mondays. Other days there are regular ring boat-trips from Salacak of Üsküdar and also boats from Ortaköy at 11:30, 13:30 and 17:30.
Kız Kulesi Café-Restaurant
Tel: (216) 342 47 47