History of Istanbul Islands (Princes Islands)
Tuğlacı, Pars. Tarih Boyunca İstanbul Adaları. İstanbul: Cem Yayınevi, 1992, 2 Vols., 1120pp.


History of Istanbul Islands (Princes Islands)

Tarih Boyunca İstanbul Adaları

This two-volume book talks about the nine islands in the Marmara Sea, which can be accessed by ferry from Istanbul. Six of these, Kınalı (Proti), Burgaz (Antigone), Heybeli (Halkis), Büyükada (Prinkipo), Tavşanadası (Niandros) and Kaşıkadası (Pita) lie parallel to the Anatolian coast, while three, Sedefadası (Terevintos), Yassıada (Plati) and Sivriada (Oksia), are situated further away.

The volumes initially provide general information on the geographical conditions and the ancient names of the islands. The author then inspects their administrative, social, cultural, architectural and economic history, as well as giving some brief information on transport, communication facilities, health and social services, tourism and sports activities.

The book contains very rich visual material: plans of the islands, maps, sketches, paintings by various artists, photos from festivals and fairs, as well as photos of famous politicians, artists and their family members. The work offers a wide bibliography comprising Ottoman manuscripts, books in Armenian, English, French, Italian and German. Ottoman manuscripts are presented within the text in their original print and with translations; some are also included at the end of the book. 

The book uses primary sources to examine the creation of local governments, administrative structures, permits and conditions used for the establishment of factories. It also provides information on the industrial and mining activities on the islands. 

First-hand information is provided about people who played a leading role in the development of trade relations and industrial production on the islands. In the Ottoman period, Christian inhabitants of the islands had been given permission by the state to engage in trade and establish factories; documents concerning such permits and related correspondence are included with translations. 

There are frequent quotes from artists, architects and other travellers. Throughout the book, it is possible to observe that from trade to sports activities, the Greek, Armenian and Jewish inhabitants had taken on a very active role in the social, cultural and economic life, alongside the Muslims. Also included is detailed information on the archaeological investigations and architectural history of the islands. There are references to the influence of Ottoman reform movements on the architecture and the lifestyle. The author has devoted the longest section of his work to architecture, which he divides into two sections: religious and civic. Religious architecture is further sub-divided into, Islamic and non-Islamic buildings. The author gives detailed information on all dwellings on the islands in alphabetical order.

He refers to the social and cultural life of the period by utilising extracts from the memoirs of Europeans who were part of the nineteenth-century social circles in the Ottoman period. In addition, he mentions Büyükada-related works of Turkish writers who were born in the early part of the twentieth century. 

Although the book has been written with reference to first-hand primary source materials it does not always analyse them academically. The book includes a few items which are not strictly appropriate: the pages that follow the foreword to the second volume contain election campaign notices which show the author running as candidate for municipal governor in the 1989 municipal elections; also included are some newspaper articles talking about the author. Nonetheless, this is a good reference book for those who wish to access comprehensive information on the islands, especially regarding their architectural history. 

Feryal Tansuğ
Translated by Aysu Dincer
Tansuğ, Feryal. “English abstract of 'History of Istanbul Islands (Princes Islands)'". Translated by Aysu Dinçer. In Cities as Built and Lived Environments: Scholarship from Muslim Contexts, 1875 to 2011, by Aptin Khanbaghi. 129. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2014.
Muslim Civilisations Abstracts - The Aga Khan University
Related Documents