Orientation & Geography

Asia, Turkey, Istanbul

Büyükada (meaning "Big Island" in Turkish; Greek: Πρίγκηπος or Πρίγκιπος, rendered Prinkipos or Prinkipo; and alternatively Πρίγκηψ or Πρίγκιψ meaning "Prince" or "Foremost") is the largest of the nine so-called Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara, near Istanbul. It is officially a neighbourhood in the Adalar district of Istanbul Province, Turkey. 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. A convent on Büyükada was the place of exile for the Byzantine empresses Irene, Euphrosyne, Theophano, Zoe and Anna Dalassena. After his deportation from the Soviet Union in February 1929, Leon Trotsky also stayed for four years on Büyükada, his first station in exile. Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid was born in the island. There are several historical buildings on Büyükada, such as the Ayia Yorgi Church and Monastery dating back to the 6th century, the Ayios Dimitrios Church, and the Hamidiye Mosque built by Abdul Hamid II. Büyükada consists of two peaks. The one nearest to the iskele (ferry landing), İsa Tepesi (meaning Jesus Hill in Turkish), formerly Hristos (Χριστός, the Greek name for Jesus Christ), 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 a strenuous 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, in Greek Άγιος Γεώργιος) experience.