F A Y T O N S G A L O R E
The nine small islands about 20 km (10.5 miles) southeast of the center of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara were called the Princes Islands by foreign chroniclers (because of Byzantine emperors' practice of sending bothersome princes there to be blinded, exiled or executed), but today's citizens of Istanbul call them simply Adalar ("The Islands").
In medieval times they were the sites of monasteries, away from the bustle and temptations of the city., but with the advent of steamships and convenient ferryboat service the 19th century, the four larger islands—Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada and Kinaliada— became summer resorts. Istanbul's wealthy Ottoman families, especially Greeks, Jews and Armenians, built elaborate Victorian summer cottages along the narrow island-village streets.
The quiet ambience of a century ago is preserved today as no private motor vehicles are allowed on any of the islands. Everyone walks, or rides bicycles, or takes horse-drawn carriages (fayton).
In summer, six to 10 ferries a day make the 90-minute voyage from the Kabatas ferry dock to Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada and Büyükada. More...
The voyage is half the fun as your ferry enters steams down the Bosphorus and into the Sea of Marmara, showing you Topkapi Palace, Ayasofya, the Blue Mosque, Seraglio Point, and indeed all of Istanbul, from a different angle.
On your first visit go to Büyükada, the most interesting island, where you can take an island tour by horse-drawn carriage, or rent a bike and tour the island yourself, and have lunch or dinner, and sip drinks, and even perhaps have a swim at one of the tiny beaches.
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Photo taken in Büyükada-Nizam, 34970 Adalar/İstanbul, Turkey
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