According to wholevehicles, the Princes’ Islands is an archipelago of nine islands that are administratively one of the districts of the province of Istanbul. They got their name due to the purpose for which they were used by the rulers of the first Byzantine and then the Ottoman empires. All representatives of the most august families and royal persons who were in disfavor were referred here.
In the 19th century, mainly wealthy representatives of the Armenian, Jewish and Greek communities began to rest here, but gradually the population became more Turkish due to the influx of Turkish capital.
Today, the Princes’ Islands are one of the popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. You can only get here by ferry, and on the territory of the islands there is only horse-drawn transport, and bicycles that you can rent (about 6 TRY per hour).
The names of each of the islands are not only exotic (like the area itself), but also very difficult to pronounce.
The “Big Island” of Buyukada is, as the name implies, the largest in the archipelago. Its area is 5.4 square meters. kilometers, 7400 people live on it. It was Buyukada that was the main place of exile of the most august persons – contenders for the throne of the emperor. For some time, there was a nunnery on the territory of the island, where women objectionable to the court, as well as elderly monks, went. Interestingly, Empress Irina, who is the founder of this monastery, later became its resident herself.
Since the 19th century, ferries have been running here, and gradually the island begins to be popular both among tourists and among representatives of the Turkish nobility. A distinctive feature of Buyukada is the unique neighborhood of mosques, Christian churches and synagogues. The Church of St. Dmitry is still active, and the Orthodox are also given the opportunity to plunge into the holy springs – Ayazma.
At one time, defeated White Guards from revolutionary Russia found shelter here.
There is also a unique wooden building of the orphanage – the largest in Europe and the second largest in the world.
The “island with a bag” Heybeliada is in second place in size and owes its name to the resemblance to a saddle pack – “heide”. Its dimensions are approximately 3 kilometers in length and 1.5 in width. Once upon a time, the island was called Demonisos, and there were as many as three monasteries on it, as well as a small fishing village. Gradually, from the 19th century, the population began to increase here, thanks to the ferry service that arose from the mainland. In the 20th century, the Trade School, the Naval College and other institutions began to appear here.
Fans of Christian shrines will be interested in the 14th century St. Mary’s Church, the monasteries of Terki Dunya and Aya Yorgi Uchurum. In addition, Heybeliada is popular among tourists during the summer seasons, thanks to the numerous sightseeing tours.
5 things to do in the Princes’ Islands
- Find out on which of the islands Leon Trotsky spent 4 years of his life.
- Take part in a unique donkey tour on any of the islands.
- Visit the first private zoo in Istanbul at Burgazada.
- Find out why in one of the restaurants in Burgazy the owner fills the glass every day in the hands of the monument.
- Try raki, the national Turkish liquor.
On the area of Burgazada (“Fortress”) takes an honorable third place. From the port of Istanbul, this island is 15 kilometers away, while it has an almost square shape: both its length and width are 2 kilometers. It began to be settled only from the 20th century by the Turkish nobility, but so far the indigenous population does not exceed 1500, while up to 15 thousand people can be on the island at the same time during the season.
The main attraction of Burgazada is the Church of Aya Yani. It itself was built in the 9th century, and the last restoration took place here only in the 19th century. For those who love antiquities, a visit to the island will be a real gift. There is a dungeon under the church, which can be reached by 11 steps.
In addition, there is a monastery of Christ, the first building of a sanatorium in Turkey, as well as the holy spring of Ayios Loanis.
Henna Island, the fourth in a row, ends the beauties of the Princes’ Islands. It got its name because of the color of the soil, which has a characteristic shade from the iron contained in it. Here you can find relatively little greenery, but a large number of stones: it was from here during the heyday of the Byzantine Empire that materials for the construction of fortress walls were exported. Due to the lack of greenery, Kinalyada is not very popular with tourists.
Mother of pearl
The “Pearl Island” of Cedefadasa is the smallest of the inhabited islands of the group. Previously, evergreen trees grew abundantly on the island, thanks to which it resembled mother-of-pearl from afar. Today, as a result of erosion, green spaces have decreased, but after the transfer of the island to private ownership in the 20th century, the construction of a settlement was organized here, and today it again welcomes tourists.
The islands of Kashikadasi (“spoon island”), Yassyada (“carnal island”), Sivriada (“pointed island”) and Tavshanadasi (“hare island”) are not inhabited, therefore they are not of particular value to tourists.