Adalar – Prince’s Islands – is located in the Sea of Marmara. The district consist of 9 islands, which can be separated into two different groups, the first group, the center islands, consists of Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kınalıada. The islands in the second group encircle the center islands and are called Sedefadası, Sivriada, Yassıada, Kaşıkadası and Tavşan Adası. The islands cover a total of 16km2. Büyükada, among the largest islands, is the center of region. Other residential islands include Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Sedefadası. Kaşıkadası has mostly privately owned property. It has been proposed to build a casino here but negotiatiotions are still ongoing. Yassıada is famous for the political trials after the 27 May Military Coup in Turkey. Sivriada also has a somewhat sad history because Istanbul’s homeless dogs were sent here. However, dogs are not only living creatures that have been expelled to the islands. Princes, queens and other members of the Byzantine ruler class were also exiled to these islands. That’s the reason why the island’s name is Prince’s Islands. It is said that Armenian bishop Narses was the first exile and Leon Trotsky, Marxist revolutionary and theorist, was the last. He will be mentioned later in the Büyükada section.
The islands came under Ottoman rule shortly before Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople. The region was used little until the 16th century, when Greek fishermen, priests, monks started to move to the Prince’s Islands.
Transportation services, for example ferries, between Istanbul and Prince Islands were started in 1846. It was a lot easier to reach the islands now, and their position in society changed. Istanbul’s many rich Jews, Greeks, Armenians, and Ottoman rulers built beautiful palaces on the islands. Most of the Turks were located in Heybeliada because of the Heybeliada Naval Academy here. Armenians and Greeks inhabited the majority of other islands. Due to social and political unrest in Turkey, most of the minorities left their houses behind and moved to other places. The Istanbul Pogrom (Events of 6-7 September) was the most touching event among the all. The event was triggered by the false news that the house of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Thessaloniki had been bombed. A Turkish mob assaulted the Greek community in Istanbul, the angry crowd even came to Büyükada, and occupied the island. Eventually, it accelerated Greek emigration from Turkey.
The main feature of the Islands is always peace and quiet. You really feel like you have escaped the buzz of the city. There are no stores or cars like in Istanbul. People ride bicycle and here the taxis are horse-drawn carriages. You can swim in the sea, go for a walk on green hills, and enjoy nature and the peaceful atmosphere, only an hour away from Istanbul. The only thing you have to do is take ferry from Bostancı, Kadıköy or Kabataş. There are two ferry options, sea buses (fast ferries) and conventional ferries which go slowly and let you enjoy the view of Istanbul.
Photo Credits: Pashazade