Culture & Travel24 August 2023
Heybeliada, the gem of the Princes' Islands, stands as a favored destination for those seeking respite from the bustle of Istanbul and a chance to breathe in tranquility. Once known as Halki, it now derives its name from the lushness of its natural surroundings. This island enchants its visitors with its serenity, verdant landscapes, and storied history. As you wander through the refreshing pine forests, you might chance upon vibrant redbuds. The backdrop of the deep blue sea complements the island's peaceful ambiance.
The historical mansions of Heybeliada and its legendary walking routes transport you back in time. Offering a serene escape from the city's clamor, the island's charming eateries also evoke a sense of nostalgia. Easily accessible, captivating in its natural beauty, rich in history, and unforgettable in culinary experiences, Heybeliada is indeed a slice of paradise for those in search of an idyllic getaway. It eagerly awaits those who seek refuge from the urban commotion right at Istanbul's doorstep, beckoning them to lose themselves in the embrace of nature's silence.
How to Reach Heybeliada?
Various options exist for reaching Heybeliada from Istanbul. You can effortlessly reach the island via City Lines Ferries, private maritime ferries, and the IBB Sea Taxi service.
You have the choice to journey to Heybeliada using City Lines Ferries or Adalar ferries departing from Beşiktaş, Kabataş, Kadıköy, Bostancı, and Maltepe ferry terminals. These ferries, compatible with your Istanbul Card, offer affordable fares. Moreover, a special tariff is available for holders of student cards. Alternatively, you might prefer private ferries operated by companies like Turyol, Mavi Marmara, and Prenstur. You can also secure a reservation for the Heybeliada Pier through the IBB Sea Taxi app, where you can select your departure point, specify the time, and indicate the number of passengers. Especially after the regular ferry services conclude late at night, the IBB Sea Taxi presents a swift and efficient alternative.
What to Do in Heybeliada?
You can explore the island by renting electric vehicles or bicycles,
Plan an island tour itinerary that encompasses historical landmarks and introduces you to the island's essence,
For a dip in the sea, visitors can head to Aquarium Beach, Pine Harbor Bay Beach, and Alman Bay Beach,
Savor local eateries or trendy cafes,
Or indulge in nature walks.
Let's delve into Heybeliada's historical tapestry and chart a course together!
Heybeliada Seminary (Hagia Triada Monastery)
Constructed under the influences of Gothic and Renaissance architecture, Heybeliada Seminary holds a place of historical and cultural prominence. It stands as one of Türkiye's and the world's oldest Christian theological schools. As an affiliate of Istanbul University, it hosts diverse events such as conferences, exhibitions, and festivals. Situated on the Hill of Hope, this institution is linked to the Greek Patriarchate of Fener in Istanbul's Fener neighborhood. Established in 1844, the seminary imparts theological education primarily to priests of various Orthodox denominations, particularly the Greek Orthodox Church.
The seminary has experienced closures and reopenings at different junctures. At present, it has been unable to provide education for an extended period. Beyond its historical and cultural legacy, Heybeliada Seminary holds symbolic significance in fostering interfaith dialogue and preserving cultural diversity.
Founded in 1924 under the guidance of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Türkiye's inaugural sanatorium was designed for the treatment of chronic diseases, with a particular emphasis on tuberculosis. While the sanatorium in Çam Harbor Bay on Heybeliada has diminished in importance over time due to medical advancements and the emergence of novel treatment modalities, it endures as a milestone in Türkiye's medical history.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church (Hagios Nikolaos)
Constructed in 1857 upon the ancient remains of a Byzantine church dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of seafarers and fishermen on the island, the church suffered damage during the 1894 earthquake but was promptly restored. Its cruciform layout, splendid dome, four robust buttresses, barrel-vaulted arches, and lofty bell tower showcase a captivating aesthetic.
Within the church rests the tomb of Bishop Samuel I, who passed away in 1775. The edifice situated in front of the Narthex, housing the sacred fountain of St. Paraskevi (Hagia Paraskevi), also presents a significant spiritual space.
Terk-i Dünya (Abandoning the World) Monastery
Terk-i Dünya Monastery, concealed among the pine trees in Çam Limanı Bay, derived its name from being a place of devotion for monks who relinquished worldly ties. Today, this structure, utilized as a place of worship by the Greek community residing on the island, welcomes visitors. The tranquil serenity of the monastery can also be experienced during the services held on Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. Although originally constructed in the early 1860s, if you wish to explore the Terk-i Dünya Monastery, which was restored in the 1950s following earthquake destruction, follow the Grand Tour route. Proceed along Refah Martyrs Street and pass through German Bay.
İsmet İnönü Museum
The İsmet İnönü House Museum, an invaluable historical and cultural gem of Heybeliada, stands as a unique haven preserving its historical essence and vividly portraying the realities. When İsmet İnönü relocated to Heybeliada for health reasons, he leased this residence, also known as Mavromatakik Mansion. Subsequently, İnönü acquired the historical property, fashioning it into his personal living space. Yet, this narrative isn't solely his; it's also woven with the endorsement and contribution of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Atatürk personally selected and bestowed Inönü's belongings to the house, thus further enriching its historical significance and meaning.