Maiden’s Tower (Kız Kulesi)

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Was the Maiden a Customs Agent?

Ask any citizen of Istanbul about the Kız Kulesi (Maiden’s Tower) and they’ll regale you with the fable of how a jealous father sequestered his fair daughter here, on this rock in the middle of the Bosphorus, to protect her from the world, and particularly from a curse put upon her by a ticked-off sorcerer: the maiden would die by snakebite, said the warlock.

Hah! thought Dad: No snakes on that rock!

The snake hitched a ride in a fruit basket, the daughter got her bite, the over-protective father was chagrined, etc.

According to historians, though, the Kız Kulesi was a medieval maritime toll-booth, a convenient place for ships passing through the Bosphorus to pay duty on the goods they transported through the Byzantine emperor’s domains.

Today there’s a restaurant here, and other towers—big white steel ones with radar mechanisms on top—watch the ships.

By the way, the big building on the Bosphorus shore behind the Kız Kulesi is Dolmabahçe Palace. To the left of it and just above is the Swissôtel The Bosphorus.

 

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