TURKEY – Istanbul, Maiden’s Tower // The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Istanbuls Maiden’s Tower was always a place of tragedy – be it in myth or movie. Nowadays its a touristic, quite crowded hot-spot – but with times for leisure as well.
Why Bond was here
Bond (Pierce Brosnan) is protecting the beautiful oil heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) from terrorist Renard (Robert Carlyle). When he realizes that both are love birds, things tighten up: Renard tries to detonate a nuclear submarine in the heart of the Bosphorus, while Elektra has kidnapped Bond’s boss M (Dame Judy Dench) and took her to a very special jail – the Bosphorus’ famous Maiden’s Tower, now equipped with an exclusive torture chair.
The tower sits on a small islet at the southern entrance of the Bosporus strait. It is just off the coast of Üsküdar at the Asian part of Istanbul.
Ferrys run from either Kabataş or Eminönü – the filming area from Skyfall – to the Üsküdar dock almost every 15 minutes. The price for one ride, paid with a token, is four Turkish Lira. When in Üsküdar, take a short walk south along the Bosphorus shore till some cafés come in sight. Right next to them is another ferry service, that takes customers in a two-minute-ride to the isle. As an independent one, it doesn’t take tokens. A ride is 15 Lira.
Good to know
Istanbuls Maiden’s Tower – or in Turkish Kız Kulesi – was first a toll station and then an 18th century light house. Now it serves as a touristic hot-spot and restaurant. It got its name from a famous Turkish legend: An Ottoman emperor locked away his beloved daughter to save her from a prophecy, boding her death via snake bite. The island and tower were snake-free till the princess 18th birthday, when her father came along with a fruit basket – and a snake tragically hidden in it. Some refer to the steeple also as Leander’s Towerdue to another myth, that actually took place in the Dardanelles.
The island gets very touristic in the early afternoon, when crowds come to get the 360-panoramic view on both the European and Asian face of Istanbul. But it gets more silent in the evenings, when only dinner reservations are allowed on the islands restaurant [site in Turkish] – also the observation dome is then turned into a decent bar. Another good time is to visit on Sunday mornings for the vast brunch buffet, mixing Turkish delights with cheese and pastries.
We came for the Sunday brunch to Istanbuls Maiden’s Tower, treating ourselves with Turkish kahve, honey and goat cheese. The ascent to the dome later was quite funny, as the different legends twining the tower were depicted with kitsch paintings on the walls. But then standing out there, with the wind bringing gull screams and boat horns to your ear – magnificent!
© HuntingBond (1,3), © 1999 Danjaq, LLC and United Artists Corporation (2)