PRINCE ISLANDS (ADALAR)
Population : 17.760 (2000)
Surface Area : 15.85 km2
Number of Quarters: 5
Coordinates : 40°52’31¨N, 29°05’40¨E
History of Prince Islands
The islands of Istanbul have been named differently throughout history. Some of these names are Saint Islands, Priest Islands, Spirit Islands, Genie Islands, Ring Islands, Prince Islands, Crimson Islands, etc. The most commonly known one of these names is Prince Islands. This is because that aristocrats, princes, and even queens were exiled here to be tortured to death since the Roman Period until Byzantine Period.
Geography of Prince Islands
Prince Islands are geological formations that enrich the natural beauties of Istanbul. It is considered that these islands were land pieces that were separated from Kocaeli Peninsula during the fourth geological era because of a depression. Prince Islands are the areas that rose above the water because of sporadic rising and submergence activities of Thrace / Kocaeli peneplain, and particularly because of the separation and submergence of the Southern area of the Bosporus.
It is possible to group the Prince Islands as central and peripheral groups in terms of their geographical distribution. Buyukada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kasikadasi form the central group. Kinaliada, Sedefadasi, Tavsanadasi, Yassiada and Sivriada belong to the second group that surrounds the island in the first group.
The total surface area of Prince Islands is 16 km², and approximately 542 hectares of this area is covered by buildings. The remaining parts of the islands are usually made up of forests, macquis groves and rocky areas. The highest point of Prince Islands is Yucetepe located in the South of Buyukada. It has an elevation of 202 meters. It is known that the monastery on Yucetepe was used for the treatment of psychiatric disorders after Murad IV (1623-1640). Prince Islands have a plain top view. Coasts usually form rather smooth curves. The coves are not very indented. Buyukada resembles a flat-foot shape. Heybeliada has a form of a sparrow that looks backwards. Burgazada and Kinaliada have a spherical form. The lengthiest island is Buyukada (5200 meters), and the widest island is Heybeliada (2000 meters).
It is the largest island among the Prince Islands. Its surface area is 5.4 square kilometers. The distance between Maltepe coast and the island is 2300 meters. There are two hills on the Prince Islands, which are located in the South and the North. The hill on the South is Yucetepe with 203 meters of elevation. The hill on the North is Isa Tepesi (“Jesus Hill”).
The vitality of Buyukada significantly disappeared until 1930’s with the decline of Greek population on the island after the First World War and foundation of the Republic. However, towards the 1940’s, the island has regained its status as a summer place that is frequented by the Republican Period’s prominent figures and bureaucrats, and by wealthy people. During this period, Buyukada was decorated with newer mansions and elegantly constructed structures, and became a popular place that was visited by the people of Istanbul. Church and Monastery of St. George is found at the highest hill of the island. The first building in here was built during 6th century CE. There are also ruins and remains of many other churches and monasteries.
Heybeliada, is the largest island of Istanbul after Buyukada. The common former names of Heybeliada are Dimoniso, Khalky, Halkitis and Halki. The most commonly used name among these was Halki. The reason the island is called Heybeliada today is that the shape of the island resembles a heybe (“saddlebag”) that was left on the ground.
It is one of the most preferred summer places of Istanbul. Besides its nature and clean air, the island is also famous for its Naval High School, Sanitarium, and Halki Seminary. As with other islands, ferry services to Heybeliada were started during the mid-nineteenth century. In the island where wealthy people of Greek origins live, a significant number of Turkish citizens have also lived because of the Naval High School.
The island’s width is 2700 meters and its length is 1200 meters. Consisting of 4 hills, Heybeliada is located at the center of Istanbul’s islands. The highest hill is Degirmentepe (136 meters). Other hills are Tasocagi Hill, Makarios Hill, and Umit Hill. Formerly known as Papaz (“Priest”) Hill, Umit Hill has an elevation of 85 meters and has a Priest School at its peak. There are also 4 ports found on the island. Cam Port and Bahriye Port, which are located at a pretty cove, are the most important ones among these ports.
Burgazada is the third island of Istanbul in terms of size. The island has a spherical shape and has around 2 kilometers of length and width. The only hill on the island is Bayrak Hill. Burgazada is among the most favorite places of Istanbul with its restored and elegant pavilions, its seaside, pine trees and climate. The mansions and pavilions of the islands are known for their beauty and elegance. There is a cape that extends towards Heybeliada, and a lighthouse on this cape. Mezarlik Cape is located to the South of the beach. The Southern coast of the island is accessed by going around the rock on this cape. This place is the steep location where Bayrak Hill is found. Hristos (Christ) Monastery is located on top of this hill that rises from the coast like a wall. Kalpazankaya is the next stop after continuing along the coast. The small village located next to Kalpazankaya is one of the resorts of Burgazada. Marta Cove is located to the South of kalpazankaya, and the Monastery of Hagios Georgios (St. George) is located to the Northwest of Kalpazankaya.
Kinaliada is one of the smallest islands among the islands of Istanbul. It has an area of 1500 x 1100 kilometers. Kinaliada is named after its red appearance that resembles henna, which it gets during the periods where it is covered with macquis plants. It has three hills which are Cinar Hill, Tesvikiye Hill and Manastir Hill. There are no forests in Kinaliada because of its rocky formation. It is known that rocks were brought from here during the Byzantine Era for the construction of the walls.
It is the smallest inhabited island of Istanbul. It has an area of 1300 x 1100 kilometers. It was named Sedefadasi (“Pearl Island”) because of its vegetation’s pearly appearance observed from the top. It was also formerly named Tavsanadasi (“Rabbit Island”) because of the high rabbit population. There are two beaches on the island. Sedefadasi was also used as an exile place like other island of Istanbul during the Byzantine Era.
It is a small island. It has a width of 185 meters and a height of 740 meters. It is the flat one of the two Hayirsizada (“Wicked Island”) that are flat and pointy. It has a flat terrain, but its coasts usually extend steeply towards the ocean. There is a small port to the North of the island. Yassiada was purchased by the Naval Forces in 1947 and a modern naval training facility has been established here.
It is one of the smallest islands among the islands of Istanbul. Sivriada and Yassiada is also known as “Hayirsizada” by the residents of Istanbul. It is not inhabited. The island is the extension of a hill that rises from the water. Its elevation from the sea level is 90 meters. A small port and a freshwater well is found to the South of the island. It is known that the island was used as an exile place during the Byzantine Era. The island is also known as a place the monks preferred to seclude themselves during the ancient times. A monastery is found on the island since the 10th century. However, only some remains from the monastery survived to present.
It is a small island located right to the East of Burgazada. It was formerly named Pita. It was named “Kasikadasi” (“Spoon Island”) in Turkish because that it resembles a spoon that was left face down. The distance from the North to the South of the island is a couple of hundred meters. There is a simple port and two small houses on the island.
It is the farthest island from Istanbul, located to the far South of Istanbul’s islands (It is 13.5 nautical miles away from Istanbul port). It is somewhat larger compared to Kasikadasi. It has a width and a height of 90 meters. It is a rocky and plain island without any trees. The island has a hill that is 40 meters tall. The official name of the island found on the maps is “Balikci Adasi” (“Fishermen’s Island”). It was named Tavsanadasi (“Rabbit Island”) because of the high rabbit population.