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 by which they were used by the rulers of the Byzantine and then the Ottoman empires. All the representatives of the august surnames and royal persons who were in disfavor referred to this.
In the 19th century, mainly wealthy representatives of the Armenian, Jewish and Greek communities began to relax here, but gradually the population became more Turkish due to the influx of Turkish capital.
Today, the Prince Islands is one of the common 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 can be rented (about 6 TRY per hour). The prices on the page are for April 2019.
The names of each of the islands are not only exotic (like the locality itself), but also very difficult to pronounce.
The Big Island 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 – candidates for the throne of the emperor. For some time there was a convent on the territory of the island, where women who were objectionable to the court, as well as elderly monks, went. It is interesting that the Empress Irina, who is the creator of this monastery, later herself became its inhabitant.
From the 19th century, ferries begin to run here, and gradually the island begins to be popular among tourists and among representatives of the Turkish nobility. A distinctive feature of Buyukada is the unique neighborhood of mosques, Christian churches and a synagogue. The Church of St. Dmitry is still active, and the Orthodox are given the opportunity to plunge into the holy springs – Ayazma.
At one time, the broken White Guards from revolutionary Russia found refuge here.
Here is 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 terms of size and owes its name to its resemblance to a saddle bag – “heide”. Its dimensions are approximately 3 kilometers in length and 1.5 in width. Once upon a time, the island was called Demonisos, and on it there were as many as three monasteries, as well as a small fishing village. Gradually, from the 19th century, the population here began to increase due to the ferry service that arose with the mainland. In the 20th century, the Trade School, the Naval College and other institutions began to appear here.
Lovers of Christian shrines will be interested in the church of St. Mary of the 14th century, the monasteries of Terka Dunya and Ayia Yorgi Uchurum. In addition, Heybeliada is popular among tourists in the summer seasons, thanks to numerous sightseeing tours.
By the area of Burgazad (“Fortress”) it occupies an honorable third place. This island is 15 kilometers from the port of Istanbul, while it has an almost square shape: both length and width are 2 kilometers. He began to settle only in the 20th century with Turkish nobility, but still the indigenous population does not exceed 1,500, while in the season up to 15 thousand people can be on the island at the same time.
The main attraction of Burgazad is the Ayia Yani Church. 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. Under the church there is a dungeon, which you can go down in 11 steps.
In addition, there is the monastery of Christ, the first sanatorium building in Turkey, as well as the holy spring Ayios Loanis.
On the “Island with Henna”, the fourth in a row, the beauty of the Prince Islands ends. 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 when the Byzantine Empire flourished that materials were taken out for the construction of fortress walls. Due to the lack of greenery, Kynalyada is not very popular among tourists.
The “Pearl Island” of Cedefadasa is the smallest of the group’s inhabited islands. Previously, evergreen trees abounded on the island, making it reminiscent of mother of pearl from afar. Today, as a result of erosion, green spaces have decreased, but after the island became a private property in the 20th century, the construction of a settlement was organized here, and today it again receives tourists.
The islands of Kashikadasa (“island-spoon”), Yassyady (“carnal island”), Sivriada (“pointed island”) and Tavshanadasi (“hare island”) are not inhabited, therefore they are not particularly valuable for tourists.