News Inside the World's First Multi-Story Wooden Building: Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Inside the World's First Multi-Story Wooden Building: Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Büyükada Greek Orphanage, which has been closed since 1964, is known as the world's first multi-storey wooden building. It is also claimed to still be the largest wooden building in the world. You can find all the information you wonder about Büyükada Greek Orphanage, where restoration works were started by BİMTAŞ in August 2020, in the continuation of this content.
Information About Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Prinkipo Greek Orphanage, or Büyükada Greek Orphanage as it is more commonly known, is an orphanage that has been closed since 1964. Büyükada Greek Orphanage, which was built as a hotel on the Manastır Hill of Büyükada, was built by Alexandre Vallaury, one of the famous architects of the period.
The Büyükada Greek Orphanage, which is claimed to be the world's first multi-storey wooden building and still the largest wooden building, was built as a hotel, but since the necessary permission could not be obtained from the administration of the time, it was bought by a Greek woman named Eleni Zarifi.
The Greek Orphanage within the Balıklı Greek Hospital in Yedikule was moved here in 1902. The purpose of use of the building changed over time, and during World War I, the Kuleli Military School moved in. Later, the orphanage was transferred to Heybeliada, which housed the Greek immigrants sent to the island by the occupation forces. Later, the building was closed and is still closed.
Architecture of Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Büyükada Greek Orphanage was built in a wooden frame system. Büyükada Greek Orphanage, which has 6 floors on the side sections and 5 floors on the other sections, is quite imposing, but despite this, its exterior appearance is extremely simple.
In the building, which adds mobility to the facades with repeated overhangs, a simple architecture dominates the other interior spaces, in contrast to the interior wooden ornamentation details in the theater hall.
Where is Büyükada Greek Orphanage? How to get there?
Büyükada Greek Orphanage, a former orphanage built on a hill and considered to be the largest wooden building in Europe, is located on Manastır Hill on the island.
It is possible to watch the building, which is forbidden to enter, from the outside. In August 2020, restoration work was started here.
The Story of Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Büyükada Greek Orphanage is an institution that was locked down in 1964. As a result, it is in a devastated state today. Today, the story of this building is told as follows:
'Built by the French in the late 1800s, it was the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world. It was intended to be used as a casino and hotel similar to those in France. However, since this casino-hotel concept was contrary to the customs and traditions of the Ottoman administration of the time, the necessary permission could not be obtained and the building was put up for sale. The building, whose construction could not be completed, was purchased for 15 thousand Ottoman liras by the Andreas Syngros Foundation, which belonged to one of the richest Greek families of the period, for the use of the Balıklı Greek Orphanage. Another rich Greek family, the Zarifis, donated 3700 gold Ottoman liras and Sultan Abdülhamit donated 1180 Ottoman liras to the Greek Patriarchate. The building was inaugurated as an orphanage on May 21, 1903 with a ceremony attended by Sultan Abdülhamit and the then Greek Patriarch Ioakim III. By the Sultan's decree, 7.5 okka of meat and enough bread were sent to the orphanage every day. The orphanage consisted of 206 rooms, a large kitchen and a magnificent library. There were 15 staff members. It also housed a primary school and various vocational schools. There were three Greek and two Turkish teachers. However, 61 years later, on April 21, 1964, the General Directorate of Foundations suddenly closed the orphanage and sealed the building. The 177 children in the orphanage were transferred to churches and monasteries in Büyükada with their own means. 1964 was a year in which Turkish warplanes flew low over the island to 'signal intervention' in response to the massacre of Turkish Cypriots by fascist Greek Cypriot gangs in Cyprus, and in accordance with the Turkey-Greece Friendship Treaty of 1930, 12,000 Greek families living in Istanbul were deported after their properties were confiscated...'
Marika Hatsu, the last director of the orphanage, wrote the following in her 2011 memoir of the orphanage:
'The Ministry of Education demanded that the building be evacuated and handed over to them within two days. The reason given was the danger of fire. When the request for a few days' grace was refused, the children were hastily packed into two monasteries on the island. It was a very sad scene. Until late in the evening, everyone, including small children, is running around in a panic, carrying something. Some were carrying a blanket, some were carrying books, some were carrying clothes and crockery. This is how 177 children lost their home. On the April 23rd Youth and Sports Day, which was celebrated two days after the orphanage was closed, the orphaned children who had been packed into the monastery were forced to participate in the ceremonies on the island and sing anthems. The drama of our children would not end there. The Ministry of Education demanded the evacuation of the monasteries to which the children had been transferred on the grounds that they did not meet the standards of orphanages, and the children began to look for a family to shelter them.' Return to the Patriarchate
The Greek Patriarchate had requested the return of the building by presenting the donation documents of the Zafiris and Sygngros families. When this request was rejected, the Patriarchate applied to the ECHR and sued the General Directorate of Foundations.
The case was concluded on November 29, 2010. The title deed of the Büyükada Greek Orphanage was transferred to the Greek Patriarchate of Istanbul.
Rumors about Büyükada Greek Orphanage
According to a rumor, a fire broke out at the Büyükada Greek Orphanage. The incident is described in the following words:
'During the period it served as an orphanage, a fire of unknown origin broke out in the Büyükada Greek Orphanage. It is told that some children burned to death during the fire. One child falls into the water well in the garden while escaping from the fire. During the searches after the fire, no one thought to look in the well and the child was left to die in the well inevitably. The people of the island were so affected by this incident that some nights they claimed to hear the screams of children coming from the orphanage.' Places to Visit Around Büyükada Greek Orphanage
Here are the places you should definitely see while you are around the orphanage:
Aya Yorgi Church
Dilburnu Nature Park
Büyükada National Park
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