Extract

Heybeliada: Notes on a Smaller Island

The Princes Islands, part 3

Heybeliada is more compact and less showy than Büyükada, but just as fair

  • The Church of St Spyridon (Terk-i Dünya), Heybeliada (photo: John Scott)

Heybeliada is the second-largest of the islands and there are dozens of good-looking mansions, many of them abandoned, along the main road, Refah Şehitleri Caddesi, which straddles the “saddle” between the two hills that give the island its Turkish name. Like its neighbour Büyükada, Heybeli, as it’s often called – or Halki (Copper) in Greek – is a diocese on its own and boasts a handsome cathedral church in the centre of the village, Aya Nikola (St Nicholas).

Much more impressive and important for the Orthodox world, however, is the seminary of Aya Triada (Holy Trinity), which dominates the northern hill. It was once a leading theological centre before it was shut down in 1971 after the conflict in Cyprus. Though there are now no students, the place is still immaculately maintained, the classrooms swept and painted. The library still receives all periodicals, and a pair of priests serve daily in the cathedral church.

The most interesting church on the island is also, sadly, the hardest to visit – the late-Byzantine Kamariotissa, thought to be the last church built before the Turkish conquest of 1453. It stands on a high bluff in the grounds of one of the island’s two naval schools and is out of bounds to ordinary visitors.

The cemetery was also the last resting place of Sir Edward Barton, Elizabeth I’s second ambassador to Ottoman Constantinople. Barton fled the city to Heybeli during an outbreak of plague in 1598 but actually carried it with him and died on the island. His gravestone was relocated in the 20th century to the Haydarpaşa Cemetery in Üsküdar.

To read the full article, purchase Issue 53

Issue 53, Autumn 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Princes Islands
£12.00 / $16.67 / 63.43 TL
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Issue 53, Autumn 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Princes Islands
£12.00 / $16.67 / 63.43 TL
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