It's appropriate that the K?z Kulesi, one of this maritime city's most distinctive landmarks, is on the water. Arriving at Üsküdar by ferry, you'll notice the squat tower on a tiny island to the right (south), just off the Asian mainland. In ancient times a predecessor of the current 18th-century structure functioned as a tollbooth and defence point; the Bosphorus could be closed off by means of a chain stretching from here to Seraglio Point.
Some think its ancient pedigree goes back even further, calling it Leander's Tower after the tragic youth who drowned after attempting to swim across a strait to Europe to visit his lover, Hero. The object of his desire, who held a torch aloft from a tower to guide his way, is said to have been so distraught when he died that she plunged to her death from the tower. The problem with the story is K?z Kulesi is on the Asian shore – and anyway, it was the strait of the Hellespont (the Dardanelles), 340km away, that Leander swam.
More recently, the tower featured in the 1999 Bond film The World is Not Enough.
The tower is open to the public during the day as a café-restaurant. Small boats run from Salacak to the island every 15 minutes from noon to late at night Tuesday to Sunday; a return ticket costs around YTL6.00. We suggest giving this a miss, as the views from the island aren't great and the tower itself isn't very interesting inside.