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x0x Years of Solitude End for the Beauty in the Bosporus

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  • Turkish Radio San Francisco
    [See http://www.ddg.com/ISTANBUL/PLACES/kiz.html http://www.balsoy.com/Turkiye/inpictures/pi/istanbul15.html
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 30, 2000
      [See http://www.ddg.com/ISTANBUL/PLACES/kiz.html
      for photographs and more on the Maiden's Tower.
      Editor, TurkC-L ]

      x0x Years of Solitude End for the Beauty in the Bosporus

      * Kiz Kulesi has been handed over to Hamoglu Tourism and Hotel
      Management by the Ministry of Tourism for 49 years, and after
      extensive restoration work is now open to the public
      * 'Kiz Kulesi was neglected for years. Why did the people who now
      object to its restoration not do something during that period?'
      * Now that the work is completed and the tower is ready to welcome
      its guests, transportation is available by boat as this complies
      with the 'historical identity and setting of the tower'

      Kiz Kulesi (Maiden's Tower) has served as a lighthouse, a watchtower,
      a traffic-control center and a prison over the years and is now open
      to the public after complete restoration of the structure. Kiz Kulesi
      has been handed over to Hamoglu Tourism and Hotel Management by the
      Ministry of Tourism for 49 years. The ministry transferred the
      restoration and administration of parts of the country's cultural
      heritage to the private sector for the purpose of "protecting our
      cultural inheritance," and turned the Kiz Kulesi restoration and
      administration project over to Hamoglu Tourism and Hotel Management --
      part of Hamoglu Holding.

      The Tures Limited Corporation undertook the restoration of the tower.
      Architect Semih Gucer from Tures stated that the restoration of Kiz
      Kulesi had been going on for approximately 1.5 years and was carried
      out by a staff of 60. He said the original architectural structure of
      Kiz Kulesi had been investigated in detail and that their work had
      been guided by the information obtained from this research. Gucer also
      mentioned that the restoration which was done in 1941 resulted in
      significant changes to a large part of the structure. He added that
      they had removed the changes made during the previous restoration,
      stating that the building had been plastered over in the 1941 work and
      they had removed the plaster to reveal the original rock.

      Cracks from earthquake are repaired

      Gocer stated that the earthquake had caused thin cracks on the walls
      of Kiz Kulesi and that these had been repaired. After Kiz Kulesi was
      handed over to the private sector, the Chamber of Architects and
      various other sectors criticized the move, saying, "If the tower is
      opened to the public, it will be damaged." Gucer responded to the
      criticism: "Buildings exist for people. Kiz Kulesi should be available
      to people in order to remain standing. Nobody knows what sort of a
      place it is. People who go there will discover its culture and its
      history. This knowledge will become greater with promotional items
      such as stamps, posters, brochures and books that people will be able
      to find there. Kiz Kulesi was neglected for years. Why didn't the
      people who now object do something during that period?"

      Cost is around $3 million

      Mustafa Balikoglu, general manager of Hamoglu Holding which has taken
      over the restoration and management of Kiz Kulesi, maintained that
      they do not expect any commercial benefit from the tower. Balikoglu,
      stressing that Kiz Kulesi was a restoration project that formed part
      of Hamoglu Holding's tourism investments, stated that the historic and
      touristic tower which had not been utilized until now, had been
      transformed into a viable structure. "This project is a rare honor
      because Kiz Kulesi is unique in the world," he said.

      Balikoglu revealed that the projected cost of the restoration was
      around $2.5-3 million dollars.

      Transportation to be by boat

      The restoration team has finished the "New Kiz Kulesi." Now that the
      tower is ready to welcome its guests, transportation is being provided
      by boats to comply with the "historical identity and conditions of the
      tower." The craft can accommodate 60 people at a time. Part of the
      income earned from the management of the tower will go into a fund
      established so that money needed for maintenance in future years will
      be available.

      The tower has a Turkish coffee and hookah section, a cafeteria, a
      service kitchen, restrooms, an open terrace, and a painter and
      musician corner. There is a lighthouse section on the ground floor of
      the tower which has a 900-meter-square enclosed area and a
      1,255-meter-square open area. The Bosporus Cultures Museum and an
      exhibition hall are on the first floor, administrative offices are on
      the second floor, stamps, pictures, posters and engravings are sold on
      the third floor, a gift shop is on the fourth level and the fifth
      floor houses a waiting room, service kitchen and observation area
      where binoculars are available.

      Kiz Kulesi will continue to use its old facilities as well as the new
      ones. There is also a room for the radio operator on the first floor
      -- which is not open to the public -- a watch tower on the second and
      a flagstaff on the third floor.

      Tower of legends

      There are many legends about Kiz Kulesi, one of the prominent symbols
      of Istanbul, that reflect the traces of Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman

      According to the most famous story about Kiz Kulesi, Constantine, one
      of the Byzantine emperors, had a beautiful daughter that he loved
      dearly. The soothsayers said the girl would one day be bitten by a
      snake and die. To protect his daughter the emperor commissioned a
      tower to be constructed on the small island where Kiz Kulesi now
      stands and sent his daughter there. However, the girl was killed by a
      snake that came to the small island in a grape basket.

      According to another well-known story, Manuel Commene (1143-1180),
      also a Byzantine emperor, got angry when he learned that his daughter
      "Leander" had a love affair. He commissioned this tower to be
      constructed and locked the girl inside it. After this the tower was
      called "Leander Tower."

      Aside from these legends there does exist some factual evidence on the
      tower. The Byzantines used the tower as a prison from time to time and
      made it a station to collect customs duties from ships and to guide
      ships by way of the tower's lanterns.

      The Turkish people's interest in the tower began when negotiations
      between Orhan Gazi (1281-1362) and Byzantine Emperor John Cantacuzenus
      took place at Kiz Kulesi. When the Turks conquered Istanbul the tower
      was derelict. The tower, made of wood, was repaired. However that
      tower burned down in a fire that started one day when the keepers were
      lighting the way for ships. During the reign of Sultan Ahmet III, a
      stone tower was built by Nevsehirli Damat Ibrahim Pasa in 1719. Kiz
      Kulesi was also used as a prison by the Ottoman Turks. It was then
      left in a state of disrepair for a long time before being restored by
      the Denizcilik Bank in the republican period and made into a

      It was handed over to Naval Forces headquarters on Oct. 20, 1966, and
      turned into a radar station. Its management was taken over by the
      maritime administration of the port of Istanbul on Oct. 7, 1982, and
      it was opened to serve as the control center for sea traffic, a
      function it still fulfills today. Nevertheless, the tower was then
      handed over to the national property trust by the Naval Forces

      The president of the Kiz Kulesi Association, architect, instructor and
      photographic artist Mehmet Bayhan says:

      "Five years ago there were activities taking place at Kiz Kulesi.
      Meetings took place under the name of 'poetic republic activities.'
      We, who participated in these activities, then established a
      foundation. We had considered Kiz Kulesi a symbol and wanted to
      announce our wish to make it part of art and culture through this
      association. We wanted to promote goodness and beauty in an artistic
      framework and saw the Kiz Kulesi as a place where we could let loose
      the contents of Pandora's box. Our purpose here was to not leave Kiz
      Kulesi exactly as it was. We maintained that it would become an
      international symbol in the framework of what we proposed.

      "But the Ministry of Tourism decided to turn the tower into a
      cafeteria and the tender went to the firm which has done the current
      restoration. We have nothing against this firm. When the ministry
      makes such a decision the company that wins the tender naturally
      completes the project.

      "In recent years culture, art and science have almost been expunged.
      Everything is seen as an instrument for making money. Kiz Kulesi was
      brought to its current state with this kind of attitude. It would have
      been a very strong and international symbol capable of increasing
      society's cultural level. Our fight, understanding and approach have
      been about this."

      How to get there?

      Now that Kiz Kulesi is open to the public, there are boats from
      different places by which one can reach the tower:

      From Salacak, there are boats that make daylong tours. Boat trips are
      available from Kabatas to the tower, every two hours between 8:00 a.m.
      and 7:00 p.m. and from the tower back to Kabatas every two hours
      between 9:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.

      If you have a reservation for dinner at Kiz Kulesi, Hamoglu Holding
      gives you the opportunity to reach the tower from Kabatas at 8:00 p.m.
      and 9:30 p.m. and to return to Kabatas at 9:30 p.m., midnight and 1:00

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