Istanbul 2010: En Route to Kiz Kulesi

March 4, 2010


I shot this on the coast of Istanbul’s Üsküdar neighborhood, on the Asian side, waiting to board a ferry boat for Kiz Kulesi, the Maiden’s Tower. We had just missed a boat, so had a good half-hour to sit in the fog and soak in the scene. Our destination, Kiz Kulesi, is draped in a variety of highly romantic legends of the Medieval variety. In one tale, a la Rapunzel with shades of Sleeping Beauty, the Sultan hid his daughter in the tower to protect her from a curse, only to watch her die in his arms after a snake snuck in with a basket of fruit, striking her with its fatal poison. Another more popular legend holds that a young woman lived in the tower, lighting its lamp to guide her lover Leander as he swam across the strait each night to see her. When, one night, her light went out, he perished en route.

All of these so-called romantic legends seemed a million miles removed as we sat on rocks in the cold, watching fisherman cast their rods and a lonely tourist shopkeeper gaze across the Strait. I remember and cherish this moment far more than the tour of the tower itself. Istanbul’s people, living their lives and gazing at their city in the light of today, hold far more allure for me than the epic tales of old.


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