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Extended Travel: Istanbul’s Princes’ Islands

andalar2Nowhere else does art, culture, music, food and history meld in the same way it does in Istanbul. In Music + Travel we discuss Istanbul’s impact on classical music and in Film + Travel: Europe, we talk about all the great films made in the city such as Midnight Express, Topkapi and two Bond features. But what do you do in when you want to get away for a little extended travel? In Istanbul, fortunately you don’t have to go very far…

The Andalar, or Princes’ Islands, are a series of nine islands off the coast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara. The islands are so named because both the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires have a history of exiling the princes of Istanbul there. Each island has its own special characteristics that make it a fascinating side-trip to the bustling city such as Kamariotissa Church on Heybeliada, the last Byzantine church to be built before the fall of Constantinople or Kınalıada, the traditionally Armenian island. One of the most attractive links the islands share is that in an attempt to prevent pollution, cars are not allowed, only horse and buggies.
andalar1During the Victorian era, the islands became popular destinations for wealthy Istanbulus who built summer retreats there. You can see many of these homes still in their original state on the largest of the islands, Büyükada. Here, horse and carriages show tourists around the immense and beautiful homes at a pleasant pace and in the summer, the gardens overflow with flowers. Once you are finished with your buggy, take a walk up one of the island’s two peaks to Ayia Yorgi, the 6thc. church and monastery where you can relax, sip tea, eat lunch and enjoy the view at their café. And while you wait for the ferry back to your hotel, grab some locally made ice cream at the dockside parlor.
The Islands are easily accessible from downtown Istanbul and provide beautiful views of the city. Ferrys leave about every hour in the summer from the Kabatas Ferry Pier and the trip takes 90 minutes to get to the first island. Our suggestion, take the ferry home just as the sun is setting over the city for photos you’ll never forget.
Kabatas Ferry Pier
Meclis-i Mebusan Cd
Google Map
All photos ©Jennifer Kellas

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