24-06-2024 - Around

Kinaliada of the Princes’ Islands: Reasons to Spend a Day

Displaying dazzling beauty in the calm waters of Istanbul, the Princes' Islands are an essential destination for those seeking a peaceful escape from the city's crowds. In order of increasing size, the four main islands, each extensively settled (the Turkish word "Ada" means island), are Kinaliada, Burgazada, Heybeliada (Greek, Halki), and Buyukada (Greek, Prinkipos).

The Princes' Islands, used as places of exile during the Ottoman period, gradually became an escape point for urban Istanbulites during the summer months. The islands, which are closed to traffic and famous for their natural beauty, offer their visitors a unique holiday experience with their verdant nature, historical buildings and clean sea. The islands have a timeless atmosphere with bikeable streets, mansions, and colourful bougainvillaeas. One of the islands, each of which stands out with its unique beauty, is Kinaliada.

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About Kinaliada

Kinaliada is an island ideal for those who want a quiet and peaceful holiday away from the crowds of Istanbul. This island, where shades of green and blue intertwine, is famous for its sea. The historical Greek mansions and churches on the island are also important in architecture. The first thing you will notice when you arrive on the island will be the fish swimming in its crystal clear sea and the verdant nature surrounding it. Kinaliada is perfect for those who want to get away from the noise, even for a few days. Exploring the island by renting a bike or on foot is possible. You can also relieve the tiredness of the day by eating fresh seafood and appetizers at the restaurants on the island.

Among the essential points you can visit on the island are the Surp Krikor Illuminator Armenian Church, Kinaliada Panagia Greek Orthodox Church, Hristos Hill and Hristos Monastery, Kinaliada Mosque and, of course, the famous beaches of Kinaliada. While visiting these places, you will discover the cultural riches and history of the island.

Kinaliada from Past to Present

Kinaliada will fascinate you with its natural beauty. The origin of the word Kinaliada means the island with henna in Turkish. The island got its name because the maquis used to have a reddish appearance. Today, the island has three central hills: Cinar Hill, Tesvikiye Hill, and Monastir Hill.

The first thing that will attract your attention here will be the giant radio and television antennas located on Cinar Hill. These antennas have become a distinctive silhouette of the island. However, considering the island's natural structure, you will find that woodlands are rare here. Its rocky structure prevented trees from growing here. In fact, during the Byzantine period, stones were quarried from the rocks here and used in the construction of the walls of Istanbul.

Throughout history, Kinaliada has been known for its calmness and natural beauty. In the past, it was more isolated than other islands due to the lack of essential services such as water and electricity. However, this changed when electricity came to the island in 1946 and water in 1981. The first inhabitants of the island were Armenians, and it is known as the island where they lived during the Ottoman period. However, with the start of ferry services to the Islands in 1846, Greeks and Turks began settling here.

Kinaliada's population did not exceed a few hundred people for many years. However, with new settlements, the winter population reached 2000. In the summer, the number of people visiting the island varies between 20 and 30 thousand.

Finally, because Kinaliada is easily accessible, it is considered the most suitable for swimming among the Princes' Islands, attracting many people's attention.

What to Do and See in Kinaliada

Now that you have learned the story of Kinaliada from past to present and gained some information about the island's rich cultural heritage, it's time to see this unique island with your own eyes. Be prepared to get lost in its depths.

Kinaliada is a charming island of history and nature, surrounded by sea views. Even though it is a small island, there are so many things to see and do that you can spend your day to the fullest on this island.

It is full of historical buildings, such as the Surp Gregory, the Illuminator Armenian Church and the Panagia Greek Orthodox Church. It also fascinates its visitors with its natural beauties, such as Hristos Hill and Monastery. Kinaliada Mosque and beaches reflect the island's cultural and natural richness. This small island offers an unforgettable experience with its history and natural charm that impresses everyone.

Let's take a look at the places to visit in Kinaliada.

Surp Krikor Lusavoric Armenian Church

Surp Krikor Lusavoric Church, an essential part of Kinaliada's historical heritage, is the center of worship for the Armenian island community.

Surp Krikor Lusavoric Church was built in 1857 and is the only Armenian church on the island. Its construction aimed to meet the Armenian community's religious needs, which were concentrated on the island then. The church's walls are decorated with extraordinary Armenian craftsmanship, which fascinates local and international tourists.

The church's exterior is eye-catching in the center of the island. Inside, panels bear the best examples of medieval stone carving. The church's current appearance was achieved with a restoration carried out in 1988.

Experience the quiet peace and impressive architecture of Surp Krikor Lusavoric Church and feel the island's spirit.

Kinaliada Panagia Greek Orthodox Church

Kinaliada Panagia Greek Orthodox Church is dedicated to the birth of the Holy Mother of God.

This church is one of the most striking religious structures on the island and holds many secrets in its historical depths. Designed as a basilica with three passages, this structure will take you on a fascinating journey starting from the courtyard at its entrance. You will see a silver-covered icon when you first step into the narthex. This icon symbolizes the birth of the Virgin Mary and allows you to feel the spiritual atmosphere of the church immediately.

An interesting detail about the church's history is that the Byzantine Emperor Leon V lived here between 813 and 820. This shows that the church was not only a religious but also a historical center. If you look around with your curious eyes, you can see the ancient ruins discovered during the excavation of the church's foundations. These ruins consist of column capitals dating back to the 6th century and are exhibited in the church garden.

Other exciting artifacts found during the excavations include olive oil-making tools, candlesticks, and marble remains, which provide a wealth of clues about the island's past. Kinaliada Panagia Greek Orthodox Church is essential to the island and its religious and cultural heritage. 

Hristos Hill and Hristos Monastery

Hristos Hill (Christ Hill) is one of the highest points on this island and is an attraction that attracts visitors. It is located southwest of the island, and when you reach its peak, you will be greeted by a magnificent view. The silhouette of the islands and the city coast and the unique view of the Marmara Sea offer a spectacular feast.

Being here, especially at sunset, will give you an unforgettable experience. The hill's historical importance cannot be ignored. It is also essential as the place where Romanus Diogenes was exiled after Alp Arslan defeated him in the Battle of Manzikert in 1071. It is also believed that Romanus Diogenes' grave is next to the current orphanage.

Another place that draws attention at the foot of Hristos Hill is the Hristos Monastery. First built in 867, this monastery has made a great contribution to the island's religious life and is known for its historical depth.

Hristos Hill and Hristos Monastery are great starting points for exploring the history and natural beauty of Kinaliada.

Monastery Hill and the Donusum Monastery

Monastery Hill is one of Kinaliada's historical and touristic riches. The Donusum Monastery (Conversion Monastery), located on the island's east coast, has a deep-rooted history dating back to the Byzantine period. This monastery, which has an essential place among the cultural and religious heritage of the island, is located on Monastery Hill. The monastery's history dates back to the Turkish conquest and has undergone various restorations.

The monastery was built on the site of a former Byzantine monastery on Monastery Hill. Abandoned after the Turkish conquest of the island and falling into disrepair over time, the monastery was restored in the 1720s by Greek merchants from Chios. These merchants built a new church on the site of the old Byzantine Katholikon and added a chapel dedicated to St. Paraskevi.

By visiting Kinaliada's Monastery Hill and Donusum Monastery, you can discover the island's rich history and cultural heritage.

Kinaliada Mosque

Kinaliada Mosque attracts attention with its impressive architecture. The roots of the Kinaliada Mosque date back to 1964.

At the islanders' request, the mosque was taken from Karakoy Square, restored during the Adnan Menderes period, and transported to the island by sea. Unfortunately, there was an accident on the seaway, and as a result of the ship sinking, some parts of the mosque were submerged in the sea. A few years later, it was decided to build a modern mosque in Kinaliada.

This mosque, built by architect Basar Acarli, stands out with its most unique architecture in Turkey. A triangular ceiling was preferred instead of a dome to maximize light. Its minaret also differs from traditional architecture and looks like a monument. Its colored windows add a separate originality to the mosque. Kinaliada Mosque is the only mosque on the island and manages to attract the attention of both local and foreign visitors with its unique architectural structure. Do not forget that this mosque also has an essential place in the island's history.

Beaches of Kinaliada

Kinaliada's beaches have become the favourite of holidaymakers due to their calm atmosphere and crystal-clear sea. You can immerse yourself in the waters of the sea on the island's beaches and spend a peaceful day sunbathing on the golden sands. On these beaches, which are especially ideal for families with children, your children can play safely and increase their swimming experience.

Kinaliada Beach is a dazzling beauty with its turquoise sea. You can visit this beach free of charge and try the unique flavors of Kinaliada, take walks in nature, or have a pleasant time cycling.

Ayazma Beach is another beauty that welcomes visitors throughout the year. With the entrance fee, you can also benefit from the services of the businesses on the beach and enjoy the sea to your heart's content.

For an unforgettable experience, join the warm embrace of Kinaliada and enjoy these unique beaches.

Food and Shopping

The center of Kinaliada offers many opportunities that will make you feel the sincerity of the island.

This place is full of adorable shops run by local tradesmen, restaurants serving traditional tastes, and relaxing cafes. You can walk around here, taste local delicacies, discover local handicrafts, and buy unique souvenirs. From fresh fish feasts to delicious local appetizers, the restaurants here offer the perfect opportunity to discover the tastes of Kinaliada.

For shopping, you can find handmade jewelry, ceramics, textile products, and more in the shops located on the streets. These unique items are special pieces that reflect the spirit and culture of the island.

Tips for Visiting Kinaliada

From Kinaliada's quiet beaches to its traditional streets, from its delicious cuisine to its natural beauties, there are many beautiful things to discover on this island. We have tips to help them have an unforgettable experience for those planning to visit Kinaliada.

Plan Transportation: The island is pretty easy to get to, but when planning your day, consider ferry services organized by Istanbul City Lines, Mavi Marmara, and Turyol Companies the island. This will make it easier to get around and explore the island.

Be Prepared: Remember to bring sunscreen, a hat, and water. Additionally, comfortable walking shoes are essential when walking around the island's streets.

Nature Walks and Bicycle Rides: The island is famous for its natural beauty. You can take pleasant walks along Kinaliada Beach or enjoy unique views by cycling. Exploring the island by renting a bike or on foot is a great option.

Try Local Flavors: Enjoy local flavors at the restaurants in the center of the island. Rich menus full of seafood and delicacies will be waiting for you.

Shop: The shops in the center sell handmade souvenirs and local products. These special pieces make great souvenirs for your visit to Kinaliada.

Explore the Beaches: Cool off in the clear sea of Kinaliada and enjoy the sun. Don't forget to visit spots such as Kumluk Beach and Ayazma Beach, which are especially ideal for families with children.

How to Get to Kinaliada?

Companies organise regular trips to reach Kinaliada, Istanbul City Lines, Istanbul Sea Buses, Mavi Marmara, and Turyol. Ferries depart from Kabatas, Kadikoy and Bostancı piers to the island. During the summer, there are sea bus services from Kabatas and Bostanci. Kinaliada is among the islands closest to Istanbul and is 25-30 minutes away by ferry.