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Map & Istanbul

"Located at the core of the historical peninsula."

Prince's Islands Popular Places

There are a total of nine islands - 20 km (10.5 miles) southeast of the city center in the Sea of Marmara - known as the Princes' Islands by foreigners, as they served as the place of exile for many a disgraced prince in days gone by. To Turks they are merely Adalar (The Islands). Only four of the nine are inhabited - Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Buyukada. However most are in fact 'summer houses', used seasonally by some of Istanbul's wealthier inhabitants. In the 19th century the islands became a summer resort for Istanbul's wealthy Ottoman families who built elaborate Victorian summer cottages along the narrow island-village streets. The quiet ambience of a century ago is preserved as no private motor vehicles are allowed: everyone walks, or rides bicycles, or takes horse-drawn carriages. 

Büyükada, the largest, the most interesting and the most popular island, where you can take an island tour by horse-drawn carriage, or rent a bike or on foot and tour the island yourself, and have lunch or dinner, and sip drinks, and even perhaps have a swim at one of the tiny beaches. Large wooden mansions still remain from the 19th century when wealthy Greek and Armernian bankers built them as holiday villas. The island has always been a place predominantly inhabited by minorities, hence Islam has never had a strong presence here.

Buyukada is famous for its beautiful gardens and forests full of pine trees. You can find a place of worship for all religious sects. There are mosques, synagogues, churches and monasteries throughout the island. It is a good opportunity to relax and enjoy the lovely nature of the island. It is a world by itself and you will want to return there again. Buyukada has long had a history of people coming here in exile or retreat; its most famous guest being Leon Trotsky, who stayed for four years writing ‘The History of the Russian Revolution’. The monastery of St George also played host to the granddaughter of Empress Irene, and the royal princess Zoe, in 1012. The island consists of two hills, both surmounted by monasteries, with a valley between. 

The southern hill, Yule Tepe, is the quieter of the two and also home of St George’s Monastery. It consists of a series of chapels on three levels, the site of which is a building dating back to the 12th century. In Byzantine times it was used as an asylum, with iron rings on the church floors used to restrain patients. On the northern hill is the monastery Isa Tepe, a 19th century house.

The entire island is lively and colourful, with many restaurants, hotels, tea houses and shops. There are huge well-kept houses, trim gardens, and pine groves, as well as plenty of beach and picnic areas.

Heybeliada ‘Island of the Saddlebag’, because of its shape, is loved for its natural beauty and beaches. It also has a highly prestigious and fashionable watersports club in the northwest of the island. One of its best-known landmarks is the Greek Orthodox School of Theology, with an important collection of Byzantine manuscripts. The school sits loftily on the northern hill, but permission is needed to enter, from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate in Fener. The Deniz Harp Okulu, the Naval High School, is on the east side of the waterfront near the jetty, which was originally the Naval War Academy set up in 1852, then a high school since 1985. Walking and cycling are popular here, plus isolated beaches as well as the public Yoruk Beach, set in a magnificent bay. There are plenty of good local restaurants and tea houses, especially along Ayyıldız Caddesi, and the atmosphere is one of a close community. 

Burgazada Smaller and less of a tourist infrastructure is Burgazada. The famous Turkish novelist, Sait Faik Abasıyanık lived here, and his house has been turned into a museum dedicated to his work, and retains a remarkable tranquil and hallowed atmosphere.

Kınalıada, it is the closest of the Prince Islands to Istanbul, about 12 kilometres (7 mi) south. Kınalıada means "Henna Island" in Turkish, as the land has a reddish colour from the iron and copper that has been mined here. This is one of the least forested of the Prince Islands. Proti was the island most used as a place of exile under the Byzantine Empire. The most notable exile was emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, after the Battle of Manzikert in 1071, who remained in the Monastery of the Transfiguration on Hristo Peak of the island.


Near Prince's Islands

İstanbul Protestan Kilisesi Vakfi (Altıntepe Protestan Kilisesi) Churchs 5.85 km
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İstanbul Presbiteryen Kilisesi Churchs 8.83 km
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Anadolu Türk Protestan Kilisesi Churchs 9.31 km
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Akasya Shopping Mall Shopping & Bazaar 9.51 km
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Haydarpaşa Train Station Popular Places 9.84 km
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Üsküdar Son Buyruk Kilisesi Churchs 11.24 km
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Blue Mosque Popular Places 11.5 km
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Mosaic Museum Popular Places 11.57 km
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