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Postcards from paradise I: Is the honeymoon over?

A visitor to Büyükada since the Sixties, Andrew Finkel, who was married on the island, laments the erosion of a bourgeois idyll

The island is magical but, like the malevolent twist in a fairy tale, a sudden turn through a secluded glade leads you up to a dark wooden building. It looks a bit like the house on the hill in Psycho, where Norman Bates lived with his mum’s skeleton. The main differences are that this is about 30 times larger and even more ramshackle. It speaks, too, of another sort of schizophrenis – the discreet cutlural confusion of Istanbul’s bourgeoisie.

The island is called Büyükada, or ‘the large island’, a humdrum name for so astonishing a place. This is the largest and most visited of the nine Princes Islands – a small archipelago in the Sea of Marmara, ploked a convenient ferry distance from Istanbul by a considerate volcano. Today if falls within the greater municipal boundaries, but it was considered distant enough to serve as a place of monastic retreat and political exile. Trotsky was banished here in 1920 as, a thousand years before, were disgraced patriarchs and Byzantine princes.

Büyükada today forms a differe sort of refuge…

To read the full article, purchase Issue 16

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Issue 16, 1998 Beguiling Büyükada
£50.00 / $63.51 / €58.15
Other Highlights from Cornucopia 16
  • Fresh as a Fresco

    Behind the gently fading façade of the Meziki Konağı, one of the few stone palazzos on Buyükada, is a frescoed interior in mint condition

  • The Dragoboys of Ortaköy

    In the late 19th century, in the face of an increasingly corrupt consular service in the Near East, ambitious plans were laid in Istanbul to train an elite corps of young British diplomats

  • Keepers of the Light

    The lighthouse at Cape Chelidonia, the southernmost point of the Bay of Antalya, stands sentinel over what is now one of the Mediterranean’s most peaceful stretches of coastline. Three generations of one family have kept the light shining here since it was first lit in 1938. Now, the in the face of satellite technology, darkness is threatening to return. Kate Clow reports.

  • Ambassador Extraordinary

    Zeki Kuneralp was raised far from home on a farm in the Swiss Alps. He returned to become one of the century’s most venerated diplomats. David Barchard pays tribute.

    Even in later years, in spite of immense personal tragedy, he remained a fount of wisdom and good advice to a host of diplomats, ministers and journalists.

  • Postcards from Paradise

    In a 36-page tribute, Cornucopia offers five contrasting views of the largest of the Princes Islands, Büyükada. Distant enough for monastic retreat and political exile, close enough for the summer migration of Istanbul’s bourgeoisie, this beguiling island has a tranquil past but a perilous future. Articles by Andrew Finkel, John Carswell and Elizabeth Meath Baker and Angela Berzeg

  • Skulduggery among the cedars

    The story of one of Turkey’s rarest bulbs could be taken from the pages of a thriller. Andrew Byfield exposes the bulb smugglers’ dastardly deeds.

  • A Feast of Figs

    As the fig grows ever sweeter, a honey-drop appears at the eye, and the seeds develop, adding a nutty flavour and a crunch to the glutinous texture.
    More cookery features

Buy the issue
Issue 16, 1998 Beguiling Büyükada
£50.00 / $63.51 / 2,101.30 TL
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