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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:56

Heybeliada - Turkish Cemeteries

A short distance beyond the monastery a road leads off half-right from the coast road to the Muslim Turkish and Orthodox Greek cemeteries. The oldest funerary monuments in the Turkish cemetery can be distinguished by the stone turbans that top the tombstones, for the turban was banned in 1826 in favor of the fez, which was in turn banned in 1925. Among the notables buried here are Hacı Ahmet Hulusi Paşa, one of the last Ottoman governors of Salonica, and Lütfi Müfit Özdes, a comrade-in-arms of Atatürk.

The Greek cemetery has a neo-classical chapel dedicated to St. Barbara (Hagia Barbara).

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Tuesday, 26 February 2013 12:54

Heybeliada - Süslü Mezar

There is another tomb on the grounds just below the road that leads past the monastery. This is the 1868 mausoleum of the wife of the noted eccentric Spyridon Kanglaris; when he died, he was buried next to this monument. This octagonal brick structure with open ogive arches is screened by wrought iron gratings. On the hillside below it there is a marble wellhead commissioned in 1910 by the abbot Procopius Arapoğlu. Water is still drawn from the cistern beneath.

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The monastery of St. George (Hagios Georgios tou Kremnou) is a pink complex on the shore south of the village, just beyond the Navy’s ordu evi (officers’ club). The appellation "tou Kremnou," or "on the cliff," stems from the fact that it is built on a bluff above the sea. The setting is quite beautiful, with pines, cypresses and other trees embowering the picturesque buildings of the monastery above the blue Marmara, a scene reminiscent of the Aegean isles of Greece.

The monastery is believed to have been founded in the years 1583-93. The Reverend John Covel visited the monastery in 1677. As he notes in his diary for 26 February of that year: "There is another monastery here, dedicated to St. George. It is decimated and under [the metopolitan of] Chalcedon. There are bookes there too, but I judging they were much of the same stuff, did not take the paines of seeing it." The English traveller Richard Pococke, who visited the island in 1739, remarked that Greeks from Istanbul took refuge in the monastery of St. George during times of plague.

The patriarch Ioannikos (r. 1761-3) retired to the monastery of St. George after his term of office in the Patriarchate. He had already built a new katholikon in the monastery, dedicating it in memory of his father, Georgios Karatzas, according to an inscription set into the wall. Ioannikos also founded a "school for mutual instruction" dedicated to the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, making the monastery a metochion of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, as it remains today.

The katholikon was damaged by a fire in 1882, which destroyed the old wooden iconostasis and all of its icons, as well as the liturgical furniture. Most of the icons that one sees now in the church are modern Russian works. The only notable icon of earlier date is in the narthex. This is an icon of St. George painted in 1764 by an anonymous monk and dedicated to the patriarch Ioannikos, who is buried in the narthex.

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The monastery of St. John the Baptist (Hagios Ioannis Prodromos) was in the center of the island, on the western slope of Değirmen Tepesi. The site is now within grounds belonging to the Turkish Naval High School, and can be visited only with special permission from the commandant.

The founding date of the original monastery is not known, but it was probably built in the medieval Byzantine period. The monastery was destroyed in 1672, and all that survived was a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Theotokos, the Mother of God, also known as the Kamariotissa, Our Lady of the Arches. The monastery and chapel were rebuilt the following year by Nikosios Paniotakis, who was the Grand Vizier’s dragoman, or chief interpreter. Thenceforth the establishment was known as the monastery of the Panagia Kamariotissa.

In 1828, during the Russo-Turkish War, the monastery was used to house Russian prisoners of war, some three hundred of whom died here. A memorial to them, a (now headless) statue of an angel holding the czars’ coat of arms, a double-headed eagle, can be seen in a small fenced area on the road just above (Aşıklar Yolu, or Lovers’ Lane, cutting across the middle of the island). The Greek Commercial School (Emporikis Scholis) was founded at the monastery in 1831, and in 1875 a new five-storey building was added, making it possible to accommodate some four hundred students, who came from all over the Greek world. The school closed during World War I, when its buildings were requisitioned by the Turkish government. After the war the school reverted to the Orthodox Patriarchate, which used it to house Greek orphans from Anatolia who were displaced in the population exchange of 1923. Then in 1942 the monastery was expropriated by the Turkish government to house part of the Naval Academy. The iconostasis and icons of the Kamariotissa were then transferred to the monastery of the Holy Trinity and the Patriarchate, while the church itself was abandoned and left desolate, as it remains today.

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