Every time we passed by Burgazada on the ferry, we wondered about this church.
Now we know that it is the Greek Orthodox Church of St John.
On Tuesday, we spent the day on Burgazada, one of the Princes Islands off the coast of Istanbul, in the sea of Marmara. Burgazada is the third largest of the 9 Princes Islands, and is a lot quieter than either of the two largest islands, Büyükada oand Heybeliada. We have been meaning to visit this island for a long time, as we have been curious to see the Greek Orthodox Church of St John, that towers over the settlement there. The day was glorious and we deliberately took the slowest ferry from Bostancı, the one that visits Büyükada and Heybeliada first, so that we could enjoy the sea air.
On arrival in Burgazada, our first task was to have a full Turkish breakfast in one of the beach-front cafés, before touring the island in a horse drawn buggy. The tour didn't take too long as the island is only about 4 square kilometres in size! But the trip was well worth it, as we saw some spectacular views and, travelling in a horse-drawn buggy, always induces in me a feeling a calm and tranquillity.
David enjoying his typically Turkish breakfast.
After our tour, we walked up to the church, known locally as the Aya Yani. The original church is thought to have been built in 876, although its present form is a result of major restoration in 1896. The church is very beautiful inside with lots of valuable icons, and other religious artifacts. Interestingly, it is one of three Greek Orthodox Churches on the island, alongside only one mosque and a synagogue.
The richly decorated iconostasis that separates the Sanctuary from the nave.
The pulpit and lectern.
One of the many beautiful icons.
A painted wooden panel depicting Saint John.
Burgazada was once entirely Greek, and the Patriarch Methodius was exiled here. Other notable inhabitants were Antigonus, one of Alexander's generals, and the Emperors Vasil, and Michael III. Today, the island is also noted for Sait Faik Abasıyanık, a famous Turkish writer, who made the island his home. Burgazada has 1,500 inhabitants in the winter, which swells to 15,000 in the summer when people from Istanbul arrive to take up their summer residences.
Turkish Fishermen on the Sea of Marmara.