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On the Island

One of the iconic landmarks of the Bosporus, the Maiden's Tower (Kız Kulesi) tops an islet near the southern mouth of the strait in the Black Sea. Though the current tower dates to the mid-1700s, its predecessor--anchoring a barrier that connected to shore to guard entrance to the waterway--first arose in the 12th century A.D. under Byzantine Emperor Komnenos, and yet earlier structures existed here. The name refers to a legend about an emperor who kept his daughter on the tower to protect her from a foretold snakebite, only to inadvertently fulfill the prophecy by bringing her a fruit basket in which a venomous serpent lay hidden. The current tower has served many purposes over the years: watchtower, lighthouse, quarantine site, naval radar station, etc. Since 2000, it's been open to the public with a uniquely situated restaurant and café inside.

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