Saturday, October 25, 2014

Princes Island: Heybeliada

Today's photo trek will take us to the second largest of the Princes Island that use to be called Halki  by Greeks in Ottoman times and now is known as Heybeiada ("saddlebag").   It is a island of a resident postulation of about 5,500 that wells enormously in summer.  It shares many of the attractions as Büyükada  pine covered hillsides, lovely old wooden houses and streets blissfully devoid of cars.   Here you can also avail yourself of a phaeton ride around the island although since is 2,35 square km in area, walking and cycling make good alternatives.

Shoreline promenade with seats that commemorates Turkey's writers.

To get here you can take a ferryboat from Kabatas, Besiktas, Kadikoy and Bostanci by four different companies: Şehir Hatları, the traditional ferries; İDO, the fast catamaran ferries; TurYol smaller ferries; and Dentur Avrasya ferries.  There are not shuttle boats among the islands, only the schedule ferries.   You must check the ferry schedules to find voyages that will take you back to your destination so you don't end up spending the night over the island (unless you want to).

View of Heybeliada from the ferryboat.  

Ferry iskelesi. 

The Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle records that copper used to be mined on Halki, hence the name which means copper in Greek.  The copper mines have long since closed down, despot a fief attempt to revive them in the 19th century, and instead the island is now rather fancifully named after the Turkish word 'Heybe'  meaning saddlebag, supposedly because the dip between the pine-covered hills resembles such a bag.    None of this hills is as high as those in Buyukada but there are more of them:  Hope Hill (85 mts/278ft), Windmill Hill (136mts/446ft) , Village Hill(128mts/420ft) and Son of the Woodcutter Hill (98mts/322ft). 

Turkish Navy Academy on the left of the island.

Heybeliada also holds the Turkish Naval Academy (to the left of the ferry dock). This school originally started life on the island in 1773 but soon moved to Hasimpasa, returning to Hebeliada in the mid 19th century.  With the birth of the Turkish Republic it was renamed the Naval War Academy but it was moved to Tuzla in 1985, since then the property has served as a naval high school.

Naval school student.

 The island is also known for the Greek Monastery and many Greek Orthodox churches.  During its centuries of existence, Aya Triyada has been a monastery, a convent, an orphenage, a girls' school and, most recently, a theological college training priests for the Orthodox ministry. In 1971 the college was closed by government order. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been trying since then to have it reopened, so far in vain. 

The Monastery on the top of the hill. 

In the 16th century, the island provided shelter for rich Christians who wanted to escape an outbreak of plague in Istanbul. Later, it suffered considerably form a fire and a series of earthquakes in the early 20th century. In 1924, a sanatorium at Yesil Burnu helped revive the island's fortunes.  Ismet Inonu, the first prime minister and later second president of Turkish Republic, spent some time there and always maintained his ties with the island, which helped increase is popularity.  The sanatorium close in 2006.

Hagios Nikolaos Greek Orthodox church the back of the plaza.

The shoreline near the landing stage is dominated by naval base which is off-limits to visitors but there is also a broad promenade line with seats commemorating Turkey's many writers.

Seats that commemorates Turkey's writers.


You can take a Phaeton tour of the island.  You can find them easily since they are close to the ferry arrival.   The long tour (Buyuk tur) offers a complete circuit of the island, chile the short tour (Kucuk tur) takes in only the area around the ferry terminal.

Phaeton tour.

If you decide to walk up the island take the steps leading uphill form the harbor and turn right when you reach the park.  The perimeter of the island es less than 2.5 km so you can manage to walk and enjoy the views.

View from the Merit Halki Palace (hotel). 

On your way to exploring the island you will find many wooden houses that lack of paint and maintanace but you can still sense the beauty and esplendor they once had in the past.

Wooden house.

Wooden house.

Restaurants, cafes and shops in the town center can supply you with sustinence and picnic supplies.   On Wednesday there is a market that provides the island of fruits, vegetables and other supplies.

Vegetable arrivals thru the harbor.

Wednesday market.

Season fruit salesman.

A little rest after shopping on the market.

During the summer, Heybeliada becomes lively with its summer home vacationist and touristic visitors.  There is a private beach you can attend by paying entrance fee.   I have to say that I prefer the quiet life of the island now that sumer is over.  You can still enjoy good weather while you promenade in a much more quiet environment.

Appetizers from the waterfront restaurant.

After walking all morning you can enjoy a delicious Turkish food  from the many waterfront restaurant options.  There you can get traditional food and also fresh fish if you prefer.  

I hope you enjoy the views!

Soreya Reyes

Twitter:  @street_photos_