The meaning behind the name of the islands derives from Byzantine times, when stubborn princes and deposed monarchs were confined here. However, ever since a ferry service from Istanbul began in the mid-nineteenth century, the islands quickly became popular summer resorts; a number of wealthy Greek, Jewish, and Armenian merchants from Beyoğlu constructed beautiful Victorian villas on the islands that continue to stand today.
Ferries depart daily from the Adalar ferry dock at Kabataş and stop at many of the islands, including the two largest and most popular: Heybeliada and Büyükada. On Heybeliada, it is possible to visit the historic Haghia Triada Greek Orthodox Monastery, in addition to its universally distinguished library. One must book ahead for this excursion, however. It is also possible to visit the small bay of Çam Limanı, which offers a golden spot to relax or swim.
Büyükada is the largest island and offers an array of activities for visitors. The famous Çankaya Caddesi is lined with beautiful wooden mansions, whose residents included such characters as Leon Trotsky. Although no cars are allowed on the island, it is possible to explore the streets by walking, renting bicycles, or riding fayton – horse-drawn carriages that navigate the island’s many streets and hills.
The Aya Yorgi Manastır, or St George Monastery, is arguably Büyükada’s most popular sight. Located on one of the tallest hills, Aya Yorgi Manastır offers unparalleled views of the surrounding islands, as well as Istanbul in the distance. Compared to the restaurant-heavy waterfront of the island, the sixth-century monastery provides a remote and peaceful escape for weary travelers.
Büyükada: An Hour Away but Worlds Apart; by Yeşim Yemni
TOP 7 Spring in Istanbul; by Talya Arditi