Photographer's Note

This is one of the shots from my first two b&w rolls. By then, I was a member of the photography club in the university. I developed my first analog films there.


Maiden Tower or Tower of Leandros, is one of the best known symbols of Istanbul. It is located on an islet at the entrance of the Bosphorus, i.e., the strait which separates the European and Asian sides of the city.

In this respect, Istanbul is unique: It is the only city which is situated on two continents. :-)


The tower was first built by the ancient Athenian general Alcibiades in 408 BC, to control the movements of the Persian ships in the Bosphorus strait. The tower was later enlarged and rebuilt as a fortress by the Byzantine emperor Alexius Comnenus in 1110 AD, and was restored and slightly modified several times by the Ottomans, most significantly in 1509 and 1763. The most recent facelift was made in 1998.

Used as a lighthouse for centuries, the interior of the tower has now been transformed into a popular café and restaurant. Private boats make trips to the tower several times a day.

There are many legends associated with the the tower. According to a popular one, a king had a much beloved daughter. One day, an oracle prophesied that she would be killed by a venomous snake on her 18th birthday. The king, in an effort to thwart his daughter's early demise, had the tower built in the middle of the Bosphorus to protect his daughter until her 18th birthday. The princess was placed in the tower, where she was frequently visited only by her father. On the 18th birthday of the princess, the king brought her a basket of exotic fruits, delighted that he was able to prevent the prophecy. Upon reaching into the basket, however, an asp that had been hiding among the fruit bit the young princess and she died in her father's arms, just as the oracle had predicted. Hence the name Maiden's Tower.

The older name Tower of Leandros comes from the Greek myth of Hero and Leander. Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite who lived in a tower at Sestos, at the edge of the Hellespont (Western Turkey, in the Dardanelles). Leander (Leandros), a young man from the other side of the strait, fell in love with her and would swim every night across, guided by the light of the lamp lit by his lover.

Although the mythologhy explains the end of this love-affair with the breezes blowing out Hero's light in a stormy winter night, and Leander losing his way, drowning, a popular version calls for a more dramatic story: The father discovers the relationship of his daughter with a foreign man, got furious and lit the candle himself during a stormy night, and blow it out when the lover was in the middle of the strait. The end of both stories is the same, though: Leandros was drowned and Hero threw herself from the tower in grief and died as well.

Due to the vicinity and similarity between the Dardanelles and the Bosphorus, Leander's story was attributed to the tower by the ancient Greeks and later by the Byzantines. The same story got its way 1,000km to the east, to the Lake Van in Turkey, as well. :-)



Scanned from analog, cropped, corrected the axis, increased sharpness & shades, applied Neat Image.

For the "Istanbul, 22 years ago..." series, please see:

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Additional Photos by Erdem Kutukoglu (Suppiluliuma) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 266 W: 105 N: 604] (3931)
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