Adalar Müzesi - Museum of the Princes' Islands

Museum of the Princes' Islands

Museum of the Princes' Islands

Museum of the Princes’ Islands is the first contemporary city museum of Istanbul.

It tells the story of the Islands from the geological formation of the Islands to the present day, displaying hundreds of objects and utilising twenty thousand Ottoman archival documents, six thousand digital photographs, hundreds of documentary films, documentation and filming of today’s Islands, archival records of public institutions of the Islands, temporary and permanent donations of the Islanders.


The museum aims to promote awareness for the rich multi-cultural history of the Islands with all its values, to contribute to the preservation of its cultural, historical and natural heritage and the enrichment of its cultural life, as well as, to create a passion for the Princes’ Islands. To this end it develops ties and co-operation with relevant NGO’s, communities and volunteer organisations in the Islands, in Istanbul and in other cities of the world. It supports the scientific research on the Islands and realises the establishment of communication networks.

About the organisation and the sites

The Museum of the Princes’ Islands has been founded by the Foundation of the Islands in cooperation with the Municipality in 2010. The work of over a hundred academicians from different fields and of hundreds of volunteers from the Islands has been invested in the process.

The staff of the museum comprises a director, a museum curator, an education and communication officer, oral history expert, public relation expert, museum technologies advisor. In addition to this for the temporary exhibitions to work with curators and designers. Press relations, promotional and advertising activities carried out by specialist companies that sponsor.

The museum has two different venues on Büyükada, the largest and most inhabited of the islands:

  • Cinar Museum Grounds (open-air exhibition area)
  • St. Nicholas Hangar Museum Site.

Cinar Museum Grounds is situated on a 800m2 site comprising the space for temporary exhibitions of the Museum and the offices of Adaevi, the cultural enterprise of the Foundation of the Islands.

St. Nicholas Hangar Museum Site, located in the area of first settlement on Büyükada, is situated on a 1100m2 site. Of the 700 m2 covered area, permanent exhibition galleries occupy 400m2 and the temporary exhibition hall 225m2.,The rest of the space is allocated to the archives room, the administrative office, workshop area, the mueum shop, the café,and a small storage area.. An additional open area of 400m2 is used to host various cultural activities, meetings and as an open exhibition area.

The Exhibitions

The Cinar Museum Grounds opened on 31st July 2010 with two exhibitions, following three- months of preparation. From the Shores of the Islands and The Islanders exhibitions were open for one year. Buildings and Architects of the Princes’ Islands exhibition opened on 2nd July 2011, todays preparing the venue fort he 2012 exhibition opening day.

The St. Nicholas Museum Site was opened on 10th September 2010, after 5 months of restoration work on the old helicopter hangar. The permanent exhibitions of the museum are housed here.

During the first months of 2011, the permanent exhibition site began to be enlarged, and a new temporary exhibition area, storage area, office and social areas were added. The exhibitions Islands, Writers and Poets: from myth to the literature will be open for one year.

Between 2008-2011 a total of 200 oral history interviews has been completed. Most of the interviews have been carried out in the Islands and related to specific exhibition concepts. Oral history based video clips are used extensively both in permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Favorite activities:

Food culture: "Sephardic dishes", "Mom’s kitchen; lemonade in scorching days", "Baby chiefs are making sandwich" etc.
Nature workshops for children: "How old is the world", "How to find fossils", "What is the trilobite" "Geological route for adults " etc.
Transportation: "A day in cylist Islands"
"Garden Tours in the Islands"
"Architectural Tours"
"Tour by boat around the Islands"
"Architectural model workshop for children"
"Music workshop", "Creative drama workshop", "Literature for Children",
"Imaginary Islands workshop for children"

Towards the Museum of the Princes’ Islands

Princes’ Islands Museum has been an aged hope of the Islanders. It was talked about a lot but no steps were taken. With the announcement of Istanbul as the European Capital of Culture for 2010, this old idea suddenly became realisable. The Municipality of the Islands and the Foundation of the Islands prepared a Project. The Metropolitan Municipality of Istanbul donated the old primary school building at Büyükada for this cause.

Works started speedily with the approval of the Project by the Istanbul 2010 ECoC Agency. Together with the architectural restoration Project, the activity of collecting documents and composing an archive also started and attracted the contribution of many well-known individuals.

The Museum aspires to document and relate the known history, recent past and today of all the islands in the archipelago. It aims at bringing together the people, buildings, products and migrations by means of contemporary techniques of display. The Project also envisages the renovation of all the house museums on the Islands and to render the whole of the Princes’ Islands as an integrated museum.

Museum Sections:

  • Timeline
  • Princes’ Islands in 10 minutes
  • Natural History of the Islands
  • First Human Traces
  • First Inhabitants
  • Architecture, Architects, Gardens
  • Learning
  • Literature
  • Trade
  • Leisure
  • Migration and Demography
  • Traditions and Rituals
  • Food Culture
  • Transportation & Communication
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Islanders
  • Local Administration
  • Natural Disasters
  • Health
  • Soundscape of Princes’ Islands
  • Development
  • Princes’ Islands on Maps
  • The Future?


2010 Exhibitions

From the shores of the Islands: A day’s outing - Life in the 1900’s

Throughout their history, the Princes’ Islands have seen many a carnival, fair, Sea Festival and Flower Festival. Cinemas, both open-air and closed, always screened wonderful films.

The Princes’ Islands always evoke feelings of pleasure, entertainment and relaxation. In the distant past they were a destination of exile for Byzantine princes and a site for many monasteries.

But this exhibition focuses on more recent times: the Princes’ Islands of the last century.


The real celebrities of the Islands are the inhabitants we encounter everyday. It is they who sing of communities past and present. It is they whose passions and pains, dreams and disappointments embody the life of the Islands. It is they, from summer people to winter residents, from greengrocers to politicians, from fishermen to writers, from carriage drivers to beauty queens whose stories bring us together.

Those who left marks on the Islands… The Islands across the centuries

Some people came to the Islands lovingly and willingly. Some came to earn a living, some emigrated and others were exiled. Some of them lived and died here,
some others disappeared without a trace. Some are with us, though far away. Their stories are our stories, portraying the multicultural life of the Islands.

Aerial Islands

An exhibition of aerial photographs.

2011 Exhibitions

Buildings and Architects of the Princes' Islands

Since time immemorial, the Princes’ Islands have had a special place among the other districts of Istanbul. During the Byzantium Era, there were tiny fishing villages along the shores. An indication of the Islands’ significance during that period was the number of monasteries where exiles were sent, including emperors, commandants and senior religious leaders whose eyes were blinded with a brand when they lost their authority.

In the Ottoman Era, the Islands were no longer used for these purposes and life continued in the fishing villages and monasteries. Today, the best known architectural examples from the past are monasteries and churches.

Unfortunately, only a few traces of these buildings still remain to this day. Although the establishment of the Naval Academy on Heybeliada in 1828 brought what is considered the first examples of housing to the Islands, it was with the establishment of regular ferry service from Istanbul in 1846 that they were able to have easier access to the Islands in the summer.

Within a short period people began to build both small and large mansions for their own use. Today, almost all of the buildings on the Islands are built from the middle of the 19th century onwards.

Is there a specific architectural style of the Princes’ Islands? Actually most of the buildings had features that resembled the summerhouses in any other locality. Similarly, a balcony is a must for almost all of the Islands’ buildings.

Many of the old mansions on the Islands can be classified with a combination of various architectural styles within the same building.

This exhibition was designed to present the architectural richness of the Islands, to remind us of the buildings that were brutally destroyed, suffered from erosion and become almost "extinct", and finally, to commemorate the architects and master builders who created these buildings.

Islands, Writers, Poets: From Myth to Literature

It seems that the love between islands and literature, the passion of writers for islands that are the source of ancient legends, the visions of utopias that shape their future, will never end.

For hundreds of years, mankind has expressed its longing for beauty, happiness, equality, the good life and immortality by combining these desires with a far away island. This dream flourishes, gaining deeper meanings in the imagination and consciousness of writers. Even though some islands are associated with poverty, solitude, fear and oppression, the longing for happiness, the feeling of adventure and the idea of escape to an island has never vanished. Numerous writers have pursued this dream and countless others will follow, always searching.

We are examining the phenomenon of "living and writing on an island" by bringing together world literature and Turkish literature in the exhibition: Islands, Writers, Poets: from myth to literature. This exhibition gathers together legends from around the world concerning the formation of islands, mythological heroes islands are named after, undiscovered and imaginary islands and island utopias all over the world.

2012 Exhibitions

Lefter , We loved this land with you (Opened June 23)

This exhibition is about the famous football legend of Turkey from the Islands...

Lefter, as you know, we live on a beautiful island. And a lovely peninsula. We love both our island and our peninsula. We are passionate about this land, like you. Not thinking ‘we came, but we are only passing.’ We came and we stayed here. We live together and want to live all together, from wolf to bird, soil to sea, people that are not like each other.

If there are people in this land who love their home, their island, soil, sea, country –and people- without prejudice; embracing each other friendly and warmly, your role in all this is crucial, Lefter. Glad that you were born and were here with us.

Reflections from Halki. Island on postcards. (Opened June 17)

Imagine an era when, on a small island, while Huseyin Rahmi is writing his novels, Nurullah Berk is a primary school student. Aziz Nesin is a small child...

While Nazım Hikmet and Necip Fazil are in their uniforms studying at the Bahriye Mektebi (The Naval School), located just next to the dock, Yahya Kemal and Hamdullah Suphi are among the instructors at the School... Later on İsmet İnönü coming to his island house for a rest.

The Ruhban Okulu (The Theological School) located on the next hill is cultivating many senior theologians including Bartholomeos, the Patriarch of the İstanbul Eastern Orthodox Church...

The cards being exhibited are collected from auctions carried out both in Turkey and abroad. This personal collection of exceptional Island cards represents an era from the late 19th century to the mid 20th century. The collection is composed of cards published for use within the postal system. So, except for some important ones, no photographs are in the exhibition. It is very difficult to find variety in the postcards and photocards published for small residential areas. Scenic views and arty buildings are generally the images at the forefront. Cards about the social life, especially people themed ones, are almost never published. This is also the case for Heybeliada. Famous people lived in a particular place, contributed to the introduction of that place, city or country to a wider audience. Heybeliada is very lucky from that point of view. Although it’s a small residential area, many important personalities were present gathered on Heybeliada. Some studied there, some worked there and some preferred to settle down there. I always wonder whether there are some other places that in spite of being that small still managed to attract so many famous people.

There is life in the Marmara Sea. But for now.( Opened June 17)

There is life in the Marmara Sea. But for now.( Opened June 17)
Compared to many seas on earth, “Once upon a time” the Marmara was a small sea, but it was a unique sea with regards to the diversity of its fauna and flora. More precisely, it was...

There are 2 canals for this small, but valuable, life habitat to breathe; the “Istanbul Bosphorus” to the north and the “Cannakkale Bosphorus” to the south. The Istanbul Bosphorus is not breathing easily due to the structuring and pollution created as a result of the metropolitan’s unbelievable growth, as well as Europe’s waste materials carried through the Danube River. It is not known how much longer the Marmara Sea can survive with the help of the Cannakkale Bosphorus’s feedback.

All the rings of the perfect nutrition chain occurred as a result of big fish chasing the little ones, once upon a time, were broken one by one and the sea balance turned upside-down. Schools of mackerel disappeared; bonito and bluefish followed the mackerels decrease. Tunas did not enter into the Marmara Sea when they couldn’t find these schools that they followed; likewise, the sharks, which are at the top of the nutrition chain, are following them. Now, the Marmara Sea is about to experience an irrevocable annihilation due not only to its disrupted balance, but also to the increasing pressure from fishing.

In this exhibition, we show that the struggle for existence in the seas around the Islands is tenaciously continuing, we would like to present the underwater photos of sea life and demonstrate that the sea is still partly alive and needs to be cared for carefully.


About The Princes’ Islands

The Prince’s Islands of Istanbul is a group of nine islands on the Marmara Sea which are named as Büyükada (Prinkipo), Heybeliada (Halki), Burgazada (Antigoni), Kınalıada (Porti), Yassıada (Plati), Tavşanadası (Miandros), Kaşıkadası (Pita), Sedef Adası (Terevintos) and Sivriada (Oxis). They are known to be a banishment site for nobles, princes, and even queens starting from Rome Era until the end of the Byzantine Era.

The population of the islands has started increasing since the middle of the 19th century. Today the population numbers fluctuate drastically between the seasons, increasing by ten times in summer as compared to winter; and the the weekend figures even exceed that.

The houses are mostly used as summer-houses (second houses). Those who come to islands to stay for the summer are generally citizens with higher incomes. The socioeconomic and cultural differences between the permanent inhabitants and those residing only during summer explicitly reveal itself. The permanent inhabitants generally work as coachmen, craftsmen, gardeners, fishermen, construction workers, restaurant keepers, ironsmiths, carpenters, flower sellers, entertainment and portage operators. More than 50% of the residents of Islands are born in Istanbul and on the Island.

The multicultural social structure of the Islands, regardless of its relatively faded status in the recent past, is based on religious and ethnic diversity. A significant part of the islander population has been made up of Greek (Rum), Armenian, Assyrian and Jewish citizens. The reflection of this multicultural structure is observable in architecture, food culture and social life. This feature joined with the characteristics special to islands anywhere, has formed the distinctive "Island Culture".

The islands Princes’ Islands have been a point of cultural aggregation. Many artists, poets, writers, composers, historians and linguists have lived or have spent some part of their lives on the Islands. In Heybeliada the Hüseyin Rahmi Gurpinar (writer) House Museum and the Ismet Inonu (one of the founders of the Turkish Republic) House Museum and in Burgazada the Sait Faik (writer) House Museum were developed with the efforts of the islanders. As they are not known adequately by the general public, the Museum of the Princes’ Islands has put this on its agenda of tasks.

Son Güncelleme ( Cuma, 10 Ağustos 2012 18:44 )  
Buradasınız: Anasayfa ENGLISH


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