Istanbul’s towers: Masterpieces reaching toward the sky

Adding a completely different meaning to the streets of Istanbul with their hidden stories, the towers of this ancient metropolis await visitors to be discovered in all their grandeur

What makes Istanbul unique, for which poems and songs have been written, and the favorite of many local and foreign tourists? It is home to a great history, and its vast historical structures and the hidden stories of these structures make Istanbul unique among dozens of European cities. So, let’s get to know the towers, which stand out in all their majesty at different points in Istanbul, with their hidden stories and magnificent architecture.

Maiden’s Tower

One of the most important structures that comes to mind when Istanbul is mentioned,the Maiden’s Tower draws attention with its hidden stories.

Located in the middle of the sea in Üsküdar, on the Anatolian side of Istanbul, the Maiden’s Tower observes the waters like the watchman of Istanbul. Although its lonely stance in the middle of the vast sea adds a sad atmosphere to the tower, the Maiden’s Tower is almost a symbol of both Üsküdar district and Istanbul.

The Maiden’s Tower, built for defense purposes in the 12th century by the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, was later used for different purposes. Maiden’s Tower, throughout history, was used as a customs station, exile point and lighthouse and is used as a museum today.

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There are also fascinating legends about the Maiden’s Tower, which you can reach by boat from the shore. The tale about the king’s daughter is the most striking. Once upon a time, a fortune teller told the king that a snake would bite his daughter and she would die. So the king built this tower to protect his daughter from snakes on land. The king’s daughter began to live here, but one day, a snake emerged from a food basket sent to the tower and bit the king’s daughter, killing her and fulfilling the prophecy.

Another legend is that the Maiden’s Tower and Galata Tower stand as a symbol of their eternal love, with the Galata Tower gazing lovingly at the Maiden’s Tower, waiting for the day they can be reunited.

The Maiden’s Tower reopened its doors to visitors again recently after two years of extensive restoration, in which prominent restorers removed all non-original additions to restore it to its original form from the time of Sultan Mahmud II.

Galata Tower

Galata Tower greets both the Maiden’s Tower and the historical peninsula on the European side of Istanbul as one of the towers flooded by local and foreign tourists every day.

Galata Tower, one of the symbolic structures of Istanbul, has survived to the present day as a structure that has witnessed history. Built between 1335 and 1349, it was used for different purposes in different periods. For example, during the Ottoman period, the tower, which the Genoese built, was used as a fire watchtower and a place where prisoners of war were kept.

It underwent restorations many times over the years and has survived to the present day. It was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 2013. Almost every street in Galata takes us to the tower and many legends about it exist. Let me share the first legend for those who dream of marriage. You will marry whoever you climb to the top of the Galata Tower for the first time. That’s why I say be careful who you go to the tower with.

Apart from this legend, one of the most important events in the history of aviation during the Ottoman Empire took place in the Galata Tower. Hezarfen Ahmed Çelebi, who is thought to have lived in the Ottoman Empire between 1609 and 1640, jumped from the Galata Tower wearing wings he prepared by studying the flight of birds. He managed to fly past the Bosporus and landed in Üsküdar.

In fact, according to what the famous Turkish traveler Evliya Çelebi said in his “Book of Travel,” this flight was the first intercontinental flight in the history of the world.

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Dolmabahçe Clock Tower

Dolmabahçe Clock Tower, one of the magnificent towers of Istanbul, is located between the Bezmialem Valide Sultan Mosque and the Dolmabahçe Palace Sultanate Gate.

The tower, built by Ottoman Sultan Abdülhamid II between 1890 and 1895, attracts the attention of all local and foreign tourists with its stylish architecture.

Welcoming the guests who come to Dolmabahçe Palace with all its elegance, the clock tower was built by architect Sarkis Balyan and has a height of 27 meters (88.5 feet).

Yıldız Clock Tower

Yıldız Tower, located in the Beşiktaş district on the European side of Istanbul, is a tower belonging to Yıldız Palace. Inside the palace complex are a barometer and a clock outside the tower southwest of Yıldız Mosque. With its elegant architecture among the towers of Istanbul, Yıldız Tower is worth seeing.

Beyazıt Tower

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The European side of Istanbul is vibrant in terms of towers. Case in point, the current Beyazıt Tower, located in the Fatih district on the European side, was built in 1828 during the reign of Sultan Mahmud II. After the great earthquake in Istanbul in 1509, people focused on constructing wooden buildings because they feared it. However, as the number of wooden buildings increased, the fires increased. Therefore, fire watchtowers were built in different parts of the city to detect these fires. Beyazıt Tower is only one of these towers.

The tower stands at a breathtaking 85 meters in height and is located in the courtyard of Istanbul University’s main campus.

While the towers, which are the most important stops of touristic trips to Istanbul, will make your Istanbul trip meaningful, the legends that have been told about these structures for centuries will take you on a mysterious journey.


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