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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.

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Issue 53, Autumn 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Princes Islands
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Other Highlights from Cornucopia 53
  • History on a plate

    Three groundbreaking archaeological exhibitions shine a spotlight on great Anatolian empires and their champions. Istanbul showcases John Garstang’s illuminating work on the Hittites. Berlin celebrates the work of Friedrich Sarre, who brought the Seljuks to life. And treasures from the Phrygia of King Midas head for Philadelphia

  • The Empire Unvarnished

    Luigi Mayer made his mark with lively, quirky scenes for the British ambassador to Constantinople, painting viziers and villagers, soldiers and servants across the Ottoman Empire. He deserves to be plucked from obscurity, argues Briony Llewellyn

  • Connoisseur 53

    London’s luminous Liotards, prayers on a shirt, bare truths in Beyoğlu, and a Biennial all at sea… Plus three lost Anatolian empires and their intrepid champions

  • Eastern Nuance

    The 18th-century Swiss portrait artist Jean-Étienne Liotard (1702–1789) is widely regarded as the first Orientalist. The four years he spent in Turkey from 1738, drawing and painting Western merchants and diplomats as well as Ottoman citizens, made him the first serious European artist to find his subject matter in the East.

  • The Grandest Vizier

    Few statesmen of the turbulent last years of the Ottoman Empire can have held more illustrious titles – at a less auspicious time – than the diminutive Küçük Said Pasha. David Barchard looks back over the eventful and chequered career of a man of many parts.

  • The Princes Islands

    Owen Matthews introduces our portrait of the Princes Islands, from busy Büyükada, via pretty Heybeliada, one-hill Burgaz and arid Kinaliada, to the haunting, deserted Yassıada

  • Broad Bean Feast

    Besides being quite delicious, the simple broad bean is nothing short of a little bundle of magic. Rich in minerals and vitamins, it contains the chemical L-dopa, which feeds dopamine and adrenaline to the brain and body.

  • Büyükada: the Writer’s Island

    Since he became enchanted by the ‘Big Island’ 15 years ago, Owen Matthews has enjoyed its seasonal changes and watched its popularity grow – not least among soap-opera fans

Good places to stay
Buy the issue
Issue 53, Autumn 2015 Istanbul Unwrapped: The Princes Islands
£15.00 / $19.47 / 643.56 TL
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