The Princes' IslandsÂ (Turkish Kizil Adalar (Red Islands) or more commonly Adalar (Islands) as they are officially named;Â are a chain ofÂ nine islands off the coast of Istanbul,Â Turkey, in the MarmaraÂ Sea.During the summer months the Princes' Islands are popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. As there is no traffic on the Islands, the only transport being horse and cart, they are incredibly peaceful compared with the city of Istanbul.
During the ByzantineÂ period, princeÂ and other royalty were exciled on the islands, and later members of theÂ Ottoman sultans family were exiled there too, lending the islands their present name. During the 19th century Â the islands became a popular resort for Istanbul's wealthy, and Victorian era cottages and houses are still preserved on the largest of the Princes' islands.
The most popular four islands are;
BuyukadaÂ (Big Island ) is the largest of the nine islands consisting the Princes' Islands.As on the other islands, motorized vehicles , except service vehicles , are forbidden, so visitors explore the island by foot,bicycle, in horse-drawn carriages, or by riding donkeys.There are several historical buildings on Buyukada, such as the Ayia Yorgi Church and Monastery dating back to the 6th century,Â the Ayios Dimitrios Church, and the Hamidiye Mosque built by Abdul Hamit II.ÂÂ Buyukada consists of two peaks. The one nearest to the iskele (ferry landing), Hristos, is topped by the former Greek Orphanage, a huge wooden building now in decay. In the valley between the two hills sit the church and monastery of Ayios Nikolaos and a former fairground called Luna Park. Visitors can take the 'small tour' of the island by buggy, leading to this point, from where it is an easy climb to Ayia Yorgi, a tiny church with a cafe on the grounds serving wine, chips and sausage sandwiches, this being part of the "classic" Ayia Yorgi (St. George) experience.
HeybeliadaÂ is the second largest of the Princes' Islands.The large Naval Cadet School overlooks the jetty to the left as you get off the ferry. There are two interesting pieces of architecture on the grounds of the school. One is Kamariotissa, the only remaining Byzantine church on the island, and more importantly the last church to be built before the conquest of Constantinapole. The other is the grave of the second English Ambassador to be sent to Constantinople byÂ Elizabeth I of England, Edward Barton, who chose to live on Heybeli to escape the bustle of the city.To the right of the jetty lies the town with its bars and cafes, a hotel that stays open all year round, and many lovely wooden houses.At the top of the central mountain is an 11th century Greek Orthodox Â monastery , it housed the Halki seminary , the main Greek Orthodox seminary in Turkey and Theological Seminary of the Ecumenica Patriarchate. The monastery, attracting tourists from all over Greece and Turkey.To prevent the island from becoming polluted, the only motorized vehicles permitted on the island are service vehicles (ambulance, fire, police, and the like) the only forms of transport are by foot, horse and buggy and service transport . There is no airport; the only way of getting there is by boat.The winter population of the island is around 3,000, but in the summer, the owners of the summer houses return and the population swells to a 10.000 people. The main attractions during the summer are small-scale open-air concerts laid on the local council, a swimming and fitness club next to the sea, and an annual Independence Day march. which is commemorated by a resident naval band touring the island.
Burgazada is the third largest of the Islands, a single hill 2 km across. Demetrius I of Macedon, one of the Diadochi (Successors) of Alexander the Great, built a fort here and named it after his father Antigonus I Monophthalmus. The island took this name, but today is generally known by the Turks simply as "Burgaz" (Turkish for "fort"). In 2003 Burgaz suffered a forest fire, losing 4 square kilometres of woodland.Burgaz is a common setting and even a major theme for writer Sait Faik Abasiyanik, where he also resided. Today, his residence is kept as a museum. At his favourite restaurant in Kalpazankaya (the counterfeiter's rock) one will also find his bronze statue enjoying the view with a glass of raki freshly filled everyday by the restaurant owners.
Kinaliada (meaning "Henna Island") is the nearest island to the European side of Istanbul. This therefore was the island most used as a place of exile in Byzantine times (the most notable exile being the former emperor Romanos IV Diogenes, after the Battle of Manzikert, 1071). This is one of the least forested islands, and the land has a reddish colour from the iron and copper that has been mined here.
Sedef Adasi, meaning "Mother-of-Pearl Island" in Turkish is one of the smallest islands of the archipelago, and has 108 private homes. The section that's open to the general public largely consists of a beach hamlet. The island is mostly private property and the current pine forests were largely planted by its owner Sehsuvar Menemencioglu, who purchased the island in 1956 and also played an important role in the imposition of a strict building code to make sure that the island's nature and environment will be protected. It is not allowed to build houses with more than 2 floors.The island's Greek name, Terebinthos, means 'turpentine', which suggests a significant presence of the Turpentine tree or Terebinth in earlier times. In 857 AD Patriarch Ignatios of Constantinople was sent in exile to the island, where he was imprisoned for 10 years before being re-elected as Patriarch in 867 AD.
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