In the midst of winter, today I suggest we virtually transport ourselves to the warm season to explore interesting places in Istanbul. However, this time, we won't be strolling through mosques or underground reservoirs; instead, we'll head to the vibrant green Heybeliada Island, which is part of the Princes' Islands archipelago.
A bit of history
The island is located in the Sea of Marmara, and you can reach it from numerous docks in Istanbul. Usually, ferries make several stops along the way, with most tourists preferring to sail to the last and largest of the group of islands, called Büyükada. Heybeliada is the second-largest in terms of territory among all the islands.
The name of the island is a reference to the traditional Eastern bag. It is believed that the name originated because the mountains of the island and the valley between them resemble this item. Speaking of mountains, there are several hills here, the largest of which, Hope Hill, reaches a height of 85 meters.
The history of the Princes' Islands is quite interesting: in the past, they were known as a place of exile for the displeasing aristocracy. Many exiles were blinded before being sent to the islands. Despite these grim facts, today, the islands are a favorite recreational spot for visitors and locals alike.
In the 16th century, Heybeliada became a refuge for wealthy residents of Istanbul who wanted to escape the outbreak of the plague. From 1924 to 2006, there was a sanatorium on the island, known for being visited by the second president of Turkey, Ismet Inönü.
The permanent population of the island is five and a half thousand people, but in the summer, thanks to visitors, the population increases significantly. Tourists come here to relax by the sea or stroll along the numerous paths that crisscross the territory. Just look at the wonderful nature here.
During my walk on the island, I saw a large monastery complex called the Monastery of the Holy Trinity. According to comments online, tourists can enter, although during my visit, the building was closed to guests. It is believed that the monastery dates back to before the 9th century and has been rebuilt several times over the years.
In addition to the monastery, there is a museum, the Church of St. Nicholas, and a naval school. Shops and cafes are open to tourists. Moreover, there are several hotels of different price ranges on the island.
One of the most interesting sights I encountered during my walks in the Princes' Islands is the huge semi-abandoned building of the former Greek orphanage Prinkipo. I invite you to take a look at this structure with me. It is considered the largest wooden building in Europe.
Have a nice trip!