What To See

Heybeliada - Tour Trough the Woods, Monasteries and Çam Limanı

Monastery of Hagia Triada

Heybeliada Orman İçiIn Byzantine times, there were at least three monasteries on Heybeliada, then known as Halki. The most renowned of these was Hagia Triada, the Holy Trinity, whose site on Ümit Tepesi is occupied by the Greek Orthodox theological school of the same name, a direct descendant of the original Byzantine monastery. The present monastery is the most prominent monument on Heybeliada, dominating the view from an approaching ferry and from within the village itself.

The earliest reference to a monastery on Halki is in the writings of St. Theodore of Studius early in the ninth century. Theodore, abbot of Constantinople’s famous monastery of St. John of Studius, was exiled to a monastery on Halki by Leo V (r. 813-20) because of his criticism of the emperor’s iconoclastic policy. While on Halki, Theodore wrote a number of letters, theological treatises, and poems, one of which was addressed fondly to the monastic cell in which he was confined.

The monastery of the Holy Trinity was restored by the patriarch Photius I (r. 858-67, 877-86), who was twice exiled there, first between his two terms as patriarch and then in the years 887-90. Photius died in the monastery in 890 and was buried there; he was subsequently canonized and is today revered as the patron saint of the Theological School of the Holy Trinity.

The monastery was apparently destroyed at the time of the Turkish Conquest in 1453, moving one anonymous chronicler to lament the loss of what "had earlier been a place where wisdom and knowledge were studied, not only by monks but also by kings and noblemen." In 1550 the monastery was rebuilt or at least partially restored by the future patriarch Metrophanes III (r. 1565-72, 1579-80). Metrophanes also gave to the monastery some three hundred manuscripts, a priceless gift that formed the nucleus of what was to become one of the most renowned libraries in the Orthodox world after that of the Patriarchate in Istanbul.

Monastery of Hagia TriadaHagia Triada went through difficult times in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but its finances, at least, improved after Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia (r. 1682-1725), issued a chrysobull giving the monastery a long-term endowment. The monastery was rebuilt and refurbished in 1773 through the efforts of its energetic abbot, Samuel the Deaf. The monastery was badly damaged in 1821, at the beginning of the Greek War of Independence, when it was attacked by a mob and set on fire. The monastery was rebuilt in 1844 by Patriarch Germanos IV, who decreed in a synod that "a theological school should be built for a purpose pleasing to God and dwelt in by theology teachers, priests who wish to learn, and future priests." Wooden buildings were erected to house the classrooms, study hall, teachers’ quarters, student dormitories, refectory, infirmary, and patriarchal apartments, while a two-storey stone structure was built for the library. Then in 1891 a three-storey wing was added to house the administrative offices and new dormitories. All of these structures were seriously damaged in the great earthquake of 1894. Thus a completely new building had to be erected for the monastery, all of the funds for which were provided by the philanthropist Pavlos Skylitsis Stephanovik. The new monastery was designed by the architect Pericles Photiades, and the building was officially dedicated on 6 October 1896, the archimandrite Germanos Gregoras presiding as Rector of the Theological School.

Read more: Heybeliada - Tour Trough the Woods, Monasteries and Çam Limanı

Heybeliada - Center

Village Center

HeybeliadaAs the visitor approaches the island by ferry he can observe the Greek Orthodox seminary dominating its hill, the Halki Palas Hotel, the former Greek Commercial School (now part of the Naval High School), and the old windmill topping Değirmen Tepesi, above the Water Sports Club.

The focal point of the village is the ferry landing on the east coast, with the iskele for the sea bus a short distance to its north. The shore road betwen the two iskeles is lined with cafes and restaurants. The principal market street runs parallel to the shore road one short block in from the sea. On the southeastern promontory of the island, next to the ferry landing, is the Deniz Lisesi or Naval High School, with its twin-towered main building and miniature port, and just north of the iskeles is a little fishing port, in which fishing boats and pleasure craft are anchored.

The Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas

The Greek Orthodox Church of St. NicholasThe Greek Orthodox church of St. Nicholas (Hagios Nikolaos) dominates the main square of the village, two short blocks in from the sea bus iskele. It was erected in 1857 on the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to St. Nicholas, the patron saint of mariners, appropriate for an island where virtually all of the men were seafarers and fishermen. The architect was Hacı Stefani Gaytanki Kalfa. The church was damaged in the 1894 earthquake, but it was soon afterwards repaired. It is cruciform in plan, with a dome on a high drum covering the central area, supported by four piers, and with barrel vaults over the four arms, a lofty clock-tower campanile rising separately from the main structure. Behind the altar is the tomb of Patriarch Samuel I, who died in 1775. A separate building in front of the narthex houses the hagiasma, or sacred spring, of St. Paraskevi (Hagia Paraskevi).

Read more: Heybeliada - Center

Burgazada - Beyond the Center

The Monastery of Hagios Georgios

The Monastery of Hagios GeorgiosThe Greek Orthodox monastery of Hagios Georgios (St. George) Karyptis is on the northern shore of the island, approached from Gönüllü Caddesi. The gateway leads to the grounds of the katholikon, from which a flight of steps leads down to the dormitory of the monastery, a two-storey stone building.

Although the monastery is believed to have been founded in the Byzantine era, the earliest reference to it is in the second half of the seventeenth century. This is when the Greek innkeepers of Istanbul decided to restore and maintain the monastery, which apparently had fallen into ruins.

The present church was built in 1897 on an endowment provided by Simeon Sinyosoğlu. It is built on the Greek-cross plan of medieval Byzantine architecture, probably repeating the design of the original katholikon. The church has a particularly fine iconostasis, carved out of wood and embossed with gold, and also an episcopal throne of finely-carved wood. On the reverse side of the icons are inscribed the words: "By thy servant Joachim, Monk from Crete, in the year of our Blessed Lord 1818." The iconostasis dates from the eighteenth century and is undoubtedly from the katholikon of the earlier monastery.

Hristos (Christ) Tepesi and the Byzantine Monastery of the Theokoryphotos

Hristos (Christ) Tepesi and the Byzantine Monastery of the TheokoryphotosThe site of the Byzantine monastery of the Theokoryphotos, the Transfiguration of Christ, is on the summit of Hristos (Christ) Tepesi, as suggested by the name of the hill. Greek tradition, unverified by the Byzantine sources, has it that the monastery was founded by the emperor Basil I the Macedonian (r. 867-86) on the ruins of an ancient Greek temple. There is evidence of a chrysobull of the emperor Manuel I Comnenos granting the Theokoryphotos its rights as a monastery in 1158. The earliest reference to the monastery after the conquest is c. 1547 by the French scholar Petrus Gyllius, who reported that it was virtually intact.

But by the end of the eighteenth century the monastery was an abandoned ruin.

All that remains is a nineteenth-century church and a two-storey building erected in the eighteenth century, along with the ruins and architectural fragments of earlier structures scattered about the former enclosure of the monastery. Inside the entrance to the enclosure there are a number of ancient architectural fragments that include four beautifully carved Byzantine capitals.

Within the monastery precinct are four large vaulted underground cisterns which still collect rainwater even today

The view from the hilltop is superb, with all of the other islands of the archipelago in view as well as the Asian shore of the mainland opposite. Greeks and others still come to the church to mark the panigiri of the Transfiguration on August 6, which in times past would have been celebrated with music and dancing on the hilltop.

The Greek cemetery is just above the site of the monastery. The little church in the cemetery is dedicated to Hagios Profitis Ilias, the Prophet Elijah, whose chapels are always on hilltops.

Read more: Burgazada - Beyond the Center

Burgazada - Center

The İskele

burgazadaThe iskele for the sea bus is a short distance to the north of the regular ferry landing on the northeast coast of the island. There are several cafes and restaurants on the seafront around the ferry landings. Faytons wait for hire beside the park between the two piers.






Motorboats can be hired near the iskeles to take the visitor to pebble beaches on the south and west shores of the island. The Adalar Su Sporları (water sports) club, with an Olympic-size swimming pool, is on Molozburnu, the promontory just to the south of the ferry landing.

The Greek Orthodox Church of Hagios Ioannis Prodromos

The Greek Orthodox Church of Hagios Ioannis ProdromosThe Greek Orthodox church of Hagios Ioannis Prodromos, St. John the Baptist, is the most prominent monument in the village, its dome, raised on a high drum, dominating the view as seen from the ferry as one approaches the iskele. The church is a short way from the seafront on the first street to the south of the ferry landing.

The present church, built in 1899, is believed to stand on the site of the katholikon of the Byzantine monastery of St. John. The original katholikon was probably built in the eleventh century, and parts of its structure are thought to be incorporated in the present church, which seems to retain the plan of the earlier structure. The evidence for this conclusion is presented by George Mastoropoulos in his Patriarchal Monasteries of the Princes’ Islands.

On the left side of the narthex, or vestibule, a stairway leads down to a small subterranean crypt with a vaulted ceiling. The crypt is dedicated to St. Methodios, for this is believed to be the dungeon in which he was imprisoned by Michael II, and where he remained for seven years before being released by the emperor Theophilos. Grosvenor describes the ordeal that Methodius endured before going to his final rest:

At Antigone, Theodora erected the Church of St. John the Baptist over the cave where the Confessor had been so long confined. In the renovated modern wooden [actually stone and brick] church, still the chief sanctuary of the islanders, little remains of the early edifice. Nevertheless the apse, or eastern portion, is part of the original structure.

Read more: Burgazada - Center

You are here: Home What To See?