Büyükada - The Greek Orphanage

It is Europe’s largest wooden building, and the second largest in the world, according to Jak Deleon. The building was erected in 1898 by a French company, who planned to open it as a grand hotel called the Prinkipo Palas, with a gambling casino on the style of Monte Carlo. But Sultan Abdül Hamit II refused to give permission for such an establishment and it never opened. The building was then purchased by Eleni Zarifi, widow of the banker Leonidas Zarifi, who donated it to the Ecumenical Patriarchate on condition that it be used as an orphanage. The Greek Orphanage, which had been at Balıklı in Istanbul, reopened here in 1903, helped by a gift of 146 gold pieces donated by Abdül Hamit II, who also gave it tax-exempt status. The orphanage closed in 1964 and has since fallen into ruins, though it is still a most impressive site, one of the principal landmarks of Büyükada as seen from the sea.

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