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Istanbul/Princes’ Islands

4,380 bytes added, 22:06, 30 June 2012
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[[Image:IstanbulPrinceIslandSq.jpg|thumb|Central square of Büyükada, with the historical harbor building at the back]]
Princes’ Islands take their name from the fact that during Byzantine and early Ottoman period, members of dynasties who fell out of favor were sent to exile there. Until late 19th century, when regular steamer transportation showed up in the seas around Istanbul, these islands were considered remote and far-away places. Apart from the exiled princes, only a handful of monks found these islands inhabitable then, a fact which gives the islands their former name in Turkish: ''Keşiş Adaları'' (“Islands of the Monks”).
Princes’ Islands consist of four major and five minor islands. Major ones are as follows (from west to east, also from smallest to biggest): '''Kınalıada''', '''Burgaz''', '''Heybeliada''', and '''Büyükada'''. Apart from these, only one more island of the archipelago is inhabited, that is '''Sedef''' which lies east of Büyükada. The other, unhabited ones are: '''Tavşan''' south of Büyükada, '''Kaşık''' (between Burgaz and Heybeliada), '''Yassıada''' and '''Sivriada''' (both lying further away in the sea, southwest of Kınalıada). This article will focus on the four major ones, as public transport to uninhabited islands is virtually non-existant, and much of Sedef is private property with limited access.
The islands are an interesting anomaly because they allow for a very rare, albeit incomplete, insight into a multicultural society in modern Turkey, possibly alike to the multicultural society that once existed during the Ottoman Empire in places such as nearby Istanbul/Constantinople. Prior to 1950s, each of the inhabited islands had significant communities of ethnic minorities of Turkey, which still is the case to a much smaller extent. Since the vast majority of the residents and visitors are Turkish, today their legacy is of cultural rather than of demographic importance: Kınalıada (Greek: ''Proti'') used to be the summer retreat of the Armenian archbishop and the Armenian community of Istanbul, Burgazada (Greek: ''Antigoni'') used to be a sleepy village inhabited by Greek fishermen. Heybeliada (Greek: ''Halki'') was the main Turkish settlement on the Princes' Islands, while Büyükada (Greek: ''Prinkipos'') was mostly favored by local Jews and foreign residents of Istanbul, mostly of European descent, although all of these ethnicities could be encountered on Büyükada. This is partially responsible for the different characters of the islands that lie so close to each other.
These islands prove to be a good day-trip especially when you are bored of the crowd, noise, and traffic of Istanbul. Quite a shock is what many travellers experience upon their return to the city, when full-blast car horns are still the way how they were when left behind early in the morning.
If you don’t have time to visit all of the islands, pick '''Büyükada''': it’s undoubtedly the “queen” of the islands.
[[Image:IstanbulPrinceIslandSq.jpg|thumb|Central square of Büyükada, with the historical harbor building at the back]]
Upon getting off the ferry, you’ll recognize the clock at the square just a block up in front of you. This is the main square of Büyükada, and around it is the town centre. Most grocery stores are to your left, as well as the restaurants which also occupy the waterfront to your left when exiting the quay. From the clock, major roads of the island diverge left (east), right (west), and straight ahead (south) among some mansions (best of which are lined on the main road to right) towards the hill, as well as narrower streets and alleys connecting these. These roads join each other again in ''Birlik Meydanı'' Square (lit. "union square", perhaps because the roads "unite" there), the geographical centre point of the island, lying amongst pine woods between the two main hilltops. From that square, whether you take the road to left or right, you will end up in the same square, as that road encircles the southern half of the island, at a distance to the sea. The Chuch of St George lies at the end of another cobbled uphill path starting from ''Birlik Meydanı''.
There is a large and detailed map of the island posted at the left of exit of ferry quay.
==Get in==
The only way to get to islands is by sea: whether '''Istanbul liners''' or '''fast ferries''' [], available at various hours every day. From [[Istanbul/European_Side|European Side of Istanbul]], you can take a boat from [[Istanbul/Galata|Kabataş]], while from [[Istanbul/Asian_Side|Asian Side]], the piers with a connection to the islands are located in Kadıköy , Bostancı, Maltepe and BostancıKartal. [http://www.tarifeyebak. com] The most frequent departures are from Bostancı (especially in winter), which also has private mid-sized boat connection to the islands in addition to liners and fast ferries. [] See [[Istanbul/Asian_Side|Asian Side]] article for an extensive detail of how to get to Bostancı from more central parts of the city.
A trip on liners typically take around an hour and a half from European Side, and 45 minutes from Asian Side.
* On the other summit of Büyükada, amidst the pine woods lies the abandoned and dilapidated '''Greek Orphanage''' (''Rum Yetimhanesi''), looking like a haunted manor. Originally built as a hotel in late 19th century, this completely-wooden, 4-story building is the second largest wooden construction in whole world (the largest in Europe). It’s dangerous to enter the building itself (because it’s slowly decaying), and also forbidden.
* Both the eastern and western side of Büyükada is full of wooden Victorian-style '''mansions''' dating back to late 19th/early 20th century, similars of which have been bulldozed in the rest of Istanbul (with the exception of neighborhoods on Bosphorus banks) to make way for concrete, multi-story apartment buildings. The ones on the western side (right side when looking out of quay) seem more splendid. Just don’t be surprised and don’t start looking for them as soon as you get off the ship: Around the quay is more like a modest town centre. They are located about 15 min walk away from the quay.
* '''Great/Total Circuit''' (''Büyük Tur'', about 15 km in Büyükada): Either by ''fayton'' or bike. It’s not as hard as it may sound, except a few slopes.
* Enjoy '''swimming''' (water is not that clean anymore though).
* Have a '''picnic''' in a scenic spot.
* <eat name="Alibaba Restaurant" alt="" address="Gülistan Cad. no: 18, Büyükada" directions="in the town centre, on the left side when walking out of the ferry quay" phone="+90 216 382 -37 -33" email="" fax="+90 216 382 -36 -00" url="" hours="10AM-1AM" price="Visa, Mastercard and AmEx accepted">Seafood restaurant in Büyükada. Reservation is advised on Saturdays.</eat>
* <eat name="Konak Lokantası" alt="" address="Recep Koçak Cad. no: 87, Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382 -54 -79" email="" fax="" url="" hours="" price="Visa and Mastercard accepted">Kebab and traditional Turkish cuisine.</eat>*<eat name="Ada Ev Yemekleri" alt="" address="Recep Koçak Cad" directions="walk toward the clock tower as you exit the ferry and take a left at the clock" phone="" url="" hours="10-10" price="very reasonable prices" lat="" long="">Small quaint resturant run by a family. Features traditional Turkish and Eastern Med cuisine at great prices. Very tasty and an authentic slice of the Islands and Turkish cuisine.</eat>
*<eat name="Köşem Restoran" alt="" address="ş.Recep Koçak Cad. No:49, Büyükada" directions="turn left when you get off the ferry, then see it on your right in about 200m" phone="+90 216 382-11-20" url="" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Very nice and cheap place, lots of locals eat here. There is both cafe-like service and self-service.</eat>
*<eat name="Sofrada Restoran" alt="" address="Recep Koçak Cad. İsa Çelebi Sokak 10, Büyükada" directions="walk towards the clock tower as you exit the ferry and take a left at the clock, walk about 20 meters and take a right on the street with the new, large Marine House Hotel. The restaurant is on the same side as the hotel, on your right." phone="+90 216 382-76-39" url="" hours="10AM-10PM" price="From 8 TL (GB£ 4/US$ 6) pp. Credit cards accepted" lat="" long="">This small quaint restaurant is run by a family and was formerly called ''Ada Ev Yemekleri''. It features traditional Turkish and Eastern Med cuisine at great prices. Very tasty and an authentic slice of the Islands and Turkish cuisine.</eat>
*<drink name="By SukruŞükrü" alt="" address="Gulistan Cad Gülistan Caddesi #16, Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382 1245-12-45 (for group or fixed menu pricing, please call Susan at +90-532-700-22-11)" url="" hours="10:00 3:0010AM-3AM" price="US$20" lat="" long="">By Sukru Şükrü is located right on the sea front with a variety of fresh seafood, kebob and vegitarian vegetarian dishes. You can enjoy live music every Saturday night in the tavern, and for those of you who miss a good T-Bone Steak or Shrimp Scampi you may visit By Şükrü's Winehouse. Just minutes away from the pier, By Sukru Şükrü is easy to get to and one of the most visited restaurants on the island. Reservations are suggested for weekends. (216) 382 1245. For Group or Fixed Menu pricing please call Susan at (532) 700 2211</drink> 
Büyükada and Heybeliada both have a limited range of hotels, some of which serve in a boutique style, preferred by many tourists but not spectacularly clean.
* <sleep name="Ascot Hotel" address="Madenler Mahallesi, Çınar Caddesi 6, Büyükada" phone="+90 216 382-28-88" url="" price="Best rates on official website start at € 85">A new boutique hotel with a pool, garden, restaurant, and bar. 22 rooms with en-suite bathrooms.</sleep> * <sleep name="İdeal Pansiyon" alt="" address="Kadıyoran Caddesi 4, Büyükada" directions="very close to the clock at the square, about a block upper from there" phone="+90 216 382-68-57" email="" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="50 TL pp at weekends in spring months, possibly cheaper in winter and on week days">One of the cheapest places to stay while in Büyükada, İdeal Pansiyon is housed in a historical wooden mansion. While the beds and linens are clean, and this guesthouse offers the experience to stay in a historical mansion (in fact, the building can serve as the setting of a horror movie), the downside of it is that not all rooms have en-suite bathrooms, and the building and furnitures are so old that you can easily overhear what is going on in the next or upper room in all its entirety (the same is true for your room as well). Heating is also reported to be a little problematic, so also take this into consideration in winter as well.</sleep> * <sleep name="Mimoza Pansiyon" alt="" address="Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382 -74 -35" email="[email protected]" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Guesthouse offering rooms with central heating, air conditioner, hot water, and wireless internet.</sleep>
* <sleep name="Splendid Palace Hotel" alt="" address="23 Nisan Cad. no: 53, Büyükada" directions="" phone="+90 216 382-677567-75" email="[email protected]" fax="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="">Located in an Art-Nouveau building which dates back to 1908.</sleep>
==Stay safe==

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