Friday, 15 July 2011

Two Charms of Istanbul

Maiden's Tower

Maiden's tower is located in the asian part of Istanbul on a small island of Bosporus, in Üsküdar district. It's the symbol of the city.

The tower is considered to have been built by an Athenian commander Alkiviad to control invasions of Persian ships in Bosporus. 

In 1110 the tower was enlarged up to a small fortress. It was repeatedly reconstructed and renovated, the most considerable changes were undergone between 1509 and 1763.

For its long history the tower served as a lighthouse, prison and a quarantine isolation spot. In 1943-45 the tower was restored according with the image it had had in the XIX century. Nowadays there is a restaurant in the tower.

One Turkish legend says: a Turkish sultan loved his daughter to destraction. Once a clairvoyant predicted that his daughter would die when she would be 18. When the construction of the tower was over, the sultan ordered to take his daughter there to protect her from any possible danger. On her 18th birthday he gave his daughter a pot of fruits, when she opened it, there was a venomous snake there that bit her and she died as it had been predicted.

Another legend tells about the second name of the tower - Leandra. According to it, it was named that in honor of a hero of one ancient Greek myth - a youth Leandr who loved Gero, a priestess of Aphrodite and for him she broke the vow of chestity. To see her, he sailed along Dardanelles each night. The youngster in love was afraid if nothing on the way to Gero. He sailed at the fire that Gero set each night, but once the fire went out and in darkeness Leandr couldn't find the proper way and sank. In the morning his body was brought to the feet of Gera by waves. In despair she went upstairs in the tower and jumped into the sea and sank too.

Ortakoy Mosque

Ortakoy mosque is located on the European part of the city near the Bosporus bridge. In was built in 1853-1854, it has two minarets.

The mosque is built in the style of Ottoman baroque. It consists of two parts: a harem of the sultan and his private rooms.

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