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Also known as Kiz Kulesi
Although this little island was occupied by a fortress in Byzantine times, the tower dates from the last century. In Turkish it’s known as Kız Kulesi, or Maiden’s Tower – supposedly after a princess who was confined here after a prophet predicted she would die from a snakebite.
The fatal bite was duly delivered by a serpent that arrived in a basket of fruit. In English it’s even more randomly known as Leander’s Tower, after the Greek hero who swam the Hellespont. The tower has been variously used as a quarantine centre, a lighthouse, a customs control point and a hideout for the villainous Elektra (Sophie Marceau) in the 1999 James Bond movie, The World is Not Enough. These days, the tower is a café-restaurant decked out like an Ottoman banquet hall, which is very popular with wedding parties.
It’s a scenic spot for an average lunch, but dinner is an over-priced, reservations-only affair. To get here, walk along the promenade to Salacak (about 15-minutes from central Üsküdar), where boats leave every 15 minutes from noon to 1am. The return trip costs YTL4.