21-22 September, 2011
I caught a ferry from Istanbul to Büyükada, the largest of the nine Princes’ Islands in the Sea of Marmara. It took a bit over an hour after stopping at three of the other islands first. The fare was 4 Turkish Lira (about A$2). I will stay here 2 nights. Büyükada is about 5 km long and 2 km wide. There are no cars on the island. Transport is by horse and cart, bicycle and walking. It is very relaxing, like stepping back in time to a slower era. Today I went for a walk up to the highest point (200m above sea level) to where the Monastery of St George (Aya Yorgi) is situated and walked back around the coastal road to town. The monastery is one of the oldest anywhere (around 800AD). In Byzantine times, deposed rulers were exiled to these islands, and in Ottoman times they were mainly just fishing villages. In the mid-19th c. the non-Muslim Istanbul bourgeoisie were allowed to build summer houses and mansions here, many of which still exist, developing a distinctive architectural style.