Previous names of the Maiden’s Tower were Damalis and Leandros. Damalis is the name of the wife of the king of Athens,Kharis. When Damalis died, she was buried on the shore, and the name Damalis was given to the Tower. It was also known during Byzantine times as “arcla” which means “a little castle.”
After the conquest of Istanbul by the Ottoman Turks, the tower was pulled down and a wooden tower was constructed in its place. The wooden tower was destroyed by a fire in 1719. It was rebuilt from stone once again by the head architect of the city, Nevşehirli Damat İbrahim Paşa. The cone-capped part of the tower was taken away and a kiosk fitted with glass replaced it. A lead-covered dome was later added to the kiosk. Rakım Efendi, a famous calligrapher, added an inscription with Sultan Mahmut II’s signature on marble and placed it above tower’s door. A lantern was added to the tower in 1857, and in 1920, the tower’s light was a converted into an automatic lighting system.
The Maiden’s Tower has been used for many different purposes over time, such as a tax collection area from merchantman, a defense tower, and a lighthouse. During the cholera epidemic in 1830, it was used as a quarantine hospital and radio station. During the Republic Period, it was again used as a light house for a little while. The tower was handed over to the Ministry of Defence in 1964 and then to Maritime Enterprises in 1982. It has undergone renovations and presently functions as a restaurant open to the public owned by a private company.