In my introduction to the Princes’ Islands, I noted there are nine islands altogether, four of which can be visited by public ferry (Büyükada, Heybeliada, Burgazada, and Kınalıada). What about the other five?
It lies to the east of Büyükada and is made up mostly of forests and exclusive private homes. It’s possible to get there from Büyükada to go swimming. It was known as Terevinthos (Τερέβυνθος) to the Greeks.
Literally translating to “Spoon Island” because of it’s shape, it sits in front of Burgazada town. It was once private property but is now maintained as a nature preserve by the island of Burgazada. There are only a couple structures on the island. The Greeks called it Pita (Πίτα).
This tiny island has a very interesting history. The Byzantines, who called it Plati (Πλάτη) used it as a place of exile for prominent figures. They also built a monastery and church there. In 1857, British Ambassador Henry Bulwer bought Yassıada and built a castle to live in seclusion. From 1947-1978, the Turkish Navy used the island as a training area. In 1961, after the Turkish military coup in 1960, several members of the ruling government Demokrat Parti were imprisoned and put on trial on the island, one of them being Prime Minister Adnan Menderes, who was sentenced to death. Yassıada is uninhabited but there are plans to build a democracy museum and possibly an “open air” museum for the Byzantine ruins. It’s also popular for scuba diving.
Known to the Byzantines as Oksia (Ὀξεία), it was used as a place of imprisonment. A monastery was built there in the 9th century. The ruins of the monastery can still be seen today along with graves of Byzantines who died there. Sivriada also plays a part in Istanbul lore. In 1911, all the stray dogs in the city were gathered and shipped to the island. A terrible earthquake occurred shortly after, and citizens believed it was punishment by God for removing the dogs. The dogs were quickly gathered and returned to the city.
This is basically a rock south of Büyükada. It’s uninhabited and was known as Neandros (Νέανδρος) to the Greeks.