Princes’ Islands...stuck in a time-warp… a magical break away from the real world!

Turkey » Princes' Islands » Büyükada

The Princes’ Islands, or, in Turkish, Prens Adaları, are a far-flung district of Istanbul, but unlike the city on the mainland, with its roaring traffic, Wi-Fi-ready cafes, skyscrapers, galleries and concerts that court a global audience, they haven’t seemed to have gotten the message that the 21st century has arrived. The Princes’ Islands are an archipelago off the coast of Istanbul,Turkey, in the Sea of Marmara and constitute the Adalar district of Istanbul Province..They consist of four larger islands, Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, Kınalıada, and five much smaller ones, Sedef Adası, Yassıada, Sivriada, Kaşık Adası and Tavşan Adası. During the summer months, the Princes' Islands are popular destinations for day trips from Istanbul. As there is almost no motor traffic on the Islands (cars are not permitted), the only transport being bicycles and horse and cart, they are more peaceful than the city of Istanbul. They are just a short ferry ride from Istanbul, with ferries departing from Bostancı, Kartal and Maltepe on the Asian side, and from Kabataş on the European side. Most ferries call in turn at the four largest of the nine islands: Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and, finally, Büyükada.

Only two square miles in size, Büyükada, population 7,000, is the largest island in a green, hilly archipelago that rises from the Sea of Marmara like a convoy of basking turtles. While its heyday may be behind it, Büyükada, with its lush hillsides, dramatic cliffs and romantic coves still makes for a magical break away from the real world. There are no skyscrapers here, no cars; only bicycles, horse-drawn buggies (called faytons), filigreed mansions and tile-roofed villas set amid flowery lanes, and emerald hillsides that drop down to rugged beaches. The place is a time capsule, an hour by sea and a hundred years in time from the bustling Bosporus. There are several historical buildings on Büyükada, such as the Agios Georgios Greek Orthodox Church and Monastery dating back to the 6th century, the Agios Dimitrios Church, and the Hamidiye Mosque built by Abdul Hamid II. On all sides of Agios Georgios Church, the Marmara Sea brightens your face with its flashes. In a courtyard of the monastery, the Yucetepe restaurant offers a spectacular view of the surrounding sea. Mimosa perfumes the air, pine needles crunch underfoot, and waiters bring sizzling kebabs, grilled eggplant, tangy fava bean-and-tomato salad, and hot börek- triangles of pastry filled with tart, fluffy cheese-to outdoor tables. The island has a large number of historic mansions however the most popular ones are: Con Pasa, Yelkencizade, Fabiato and Mizzi Mansions... In addition, on the island there is the Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage, which is the largest wooden construction in Europe and second largest in the world. By the way, we recommend that you shouldn’t leave Büyükada without a walk on Aşıklar Yolu (Lovers Way) and Dilburnu. As soon as you leave the historical buildings in the port of Büyükada, restaurants, cafes and ice cream sellers with delicious flavors surround you. The island welcomes you enthusiastically with people riding bicycles with great merriment, lots of cats and dogs and, of course, seagulls. Enjoy a dinner or a drink in one of the many cafes and restaurants in the town center before hopping on the ferry back to Istanbul. Thus, we recommend you to eat ice cream as a dessert after dinner and on the return, remember these and don’t forget to get hardtacks, Iranian buns and cookies with cinnamon and gum mastic at Büyükada Bakery.

In these sunny days take a pinch of pleasure, peace and joy and welcome to the tour of the pearls of Istanbul, the Princes’ Islands…