Since the early Roman period, this natural island had several different functions.
Mainly it was used as a customs control point and a light house since it is located at the southern entrance of the Bosphorus strait.
It has also been used as a prison, semaphore station, quarantine and even a home for retired naval officers. The tower is located on a natural islet off the coast of Üsküdar, Salacak İskelesi (pier). The present building is from 18th century.
The name is associated with a legend about Leander and his lover Hero. Leander was swimming across the strait to see Hero every night and she was holding a torch for him. One stormy night, the breeze blows off Hero’s light and Leander drowned in the waves. Hero threw herself into the water because of her grief and killed herself. Although the legend is attributed to the strait of Dardanelles, it became related with the Bosphorus.
The tower is one of the symbols of İstanbul, can be seen in many postcards. Today there is a restaurant and a cafe on the second floor.