Heybeli (“saddlebag”) island, named for the “saddle” or low place between its hills, is Istanbul‘s second-largest island at 2.35 square km (235 hectares, 581 acres) (map).
Less crowded than Büyükada, Heybeliada has many of its larger neighbor’s pleasures, including narrow beaches, pine forests for strolling, fine late 19th-century villas and other buildings, a waterfront promenade, and no motor vehicles.
|Passenger’s view in a fayton.|
As on Büyükada, you can take a horse-drawn carriage(fayton) tourof the island, either the Short Tour or the Long Tour (costing about 50% more). Otherwise, there are bicycles for rent.
Heybeli even has a few good hotels, including the 43-room Merit Halki Palace.
Called Halki by Greeks in Ottoman times, Heybeli also holds the Turkish Naval Academy (to the left of the ferry dock) and, between the hills, the Aya Triyada(Haghia Triada, Holy Trinity) Monastery.
During its centuries of existence, Aya Triyada has been a monastery, a convent, an orphenage, a girls’ school and, most recently, a theological college training priests for the Orthodox ministry. In 1971 the college was closed by government order. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has been trying since then to have it reopened, so far in vain.
Restaurants, cafes and shops in the town center can supply you with sustinence and picnic supplies.
When planning your visit to Heybeli, heed the warnings about ferryboat crowding. More…
—by Tom Brosnahan