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Pearls of Istanbul: The Princes' Island

Islands of various proportions in the southeast of İstanbul adorn İstanbul like a necklace. These islands have become very popular recreational places for İstanbul residents for centuries. The islands have been used by the residents as holiday resorts in recent past thanks to the richness of its nature.

Adalar have been the one of the most well-known and utilized recreational spots with their beaches, green fabric, walkway, valleys of pine forests, their hills and coasts. Well-arranged gardens of the island mansions, flowers of acacia, judas tree blossoms, oleander, tulip, daisy, honeysuckle and clove color the surroundings throughout the year.

Residential areas are mostly located in the south and east coasts of the islands. The islands hold a significant place in İstanbul history with its past. It has become a scene to many historical events since the eastern monks founding their monasteries in Byzantine period.

The islands, which are also named as Prince Islands or Scarlet Islands, can be classified into three groups. Islands open to tourism and having residence, private-property islands and islands which have no residence. Kınalıada, Burgazada, Heybeliada, Büyükada and Sedef Adası are islands which are open to tourism and have residence. Kaşıkadası is a private property. Therefore There is no serious settlement on the island. Yassıada, Sivriada and Tavşanadası have no residence on them.

Pearls of İstanbul

The mild Mediterranean climate reigns in Adalar, with hot and dry summers and mild and wet winters, and the flora consists of pine forests and shrubs.

Life in Adalar, with is ealm and ouiet during winter, begins to revive with the spring. The islands are covered with a green flora throughout the year and the bright yellow mimosas add colour to the scene in spring.

The mimosas, which are one of the specialities of Adalar, are picked up and sold in bougainvillea, magnolia, Judas tree, turpentine, linden-tree, cedar and figs are other characteristics of Adalar. Strawberries, both as blossom and fruit ripening in autumn are also specific to Adalar. 

Adalar which is described as "Pearls of İstanbul" embraces a variety of natural and architectural beauties protected from the harmful effects of the geographical situation and topographical conditions of the islands. People running away from the chaos of İstanbul from the traffic jam, air pollution, rapid urbanization and rapid growth of the population find a peaceful solace in Adalar. As there is no industry on these islands and as all private motor vehicles are forbidden, Adalar creates such an attracting summer resort that the population, which is 20.000 during winter, increases to some 400.000 in summer.

For the people who enjoy a quiet, restful way of living, away from the noise, air pollution, heavy traffic and stress, Adalar offers an invaluable alternative, only 14-20 kilometers from İstanbul. The distance is only 2.5 kilometers from the Anatolian shore.


The nine islands, called the "Adalar", are located in south-east İstanbul, across the Bostancı-Kartal seashore, on the Asian bank of this big city known as one of the jewels of the world. As the superficies, Adalar is the smallest district of İstanbul; Büyükada, Kınalıada, Heybeliada, Burgazadası and Sedefadası are inhabited. It is expected that touristic facilities on Kaşıkadası and educational establishments on Yassıada will be soon arranged.


Adalar, the Pearls of İstanbul, was called by various names throughout the history. Before converting to Christianity, Greeks called it "Demonisi" (Demon's Islands); Greek philosopher Artemidoros used the name "Pitiuse" (Pine Islands) and the Roman naturalist Plinius named it Propondidas" (Marmara Islands). After the conversion to Christianity, the islands was called "Papadonissia" (Priest's Islands), "Les lles des Princes" (Prince Islands) and the Turks called them "Crimson Islands" because of the color of the earth. The most common name is "Prince Islands" due to many princes, princes and emperors being exiled to these islands during the Byzantine reign.

According to the historians, the first historical event in the islands took place on 311 B.C. Dimitrios Poliorkites, son of Antigonos who had been one of the commanders of Alexandre the Great, got into a fight with Lisimakhos and Kasandros in order to recapture the Çanakkale (Dardanelles)and İstanbul Straits. Later on, in 298 B.C, he constructed a fortress after the name and for the memory of his father on Burgazadası called "Panormos" at that time and named the island "Antigoni". A tombstone with Latin engravings, which was found at the top of Burgazadası, and the "Büyükada Treasure" which was discovered in 1930 and which consists of golden coins belonging to Philippe the second (father of Alexandre the Great) are evidences for these events.