Büyükada Greek Orthodox Orphanage on most endangered shortlist
Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage organization, and the European Investment Bank Institute included the Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage in Istanbul among 12 cultural heritages, which have been nominated for the Seven Most Endangered cultural heritages list. The final seven cultural heritages will be announced on March 15.
The Greek orphanage is considered to be the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world. The structure is located on Büyükada (Prinkipo), the largest of the Princes’ Islands off the coast of Istanbul.
Spread across five storeys, the building is comprised of 206 rooms. The building was designed by French architect Alexandre Vallaury, to be operated as a luxury hotel and casino from the time it was built in 1899.
In the early 1900s, the Princes’ Islands had become a favorable summer resort for the communities of Istanbul from different religious and ethnic origins, creating a microcosm reflecting the cosmopolitan character of the city.
The building is important as it captures something of this era and the society in which it was built.
Damaged by a fire in 1980, today the building is continually exposed to adverse weather conditions, which is worsened by its proximity to the sea. As a result, the structural elements have been badly compromised. Sections of the roof and corner posts have already fallen and the orphanage is now at immediate risk of further collapse.
Concerns about safety and accessibility complicate the already difficult task of finding a suitable reuse for the building. Europa Nostra Turkey, who submitted the nomination for the list of Seven Most Endangered heritage sites 2018, has proposed that the immediate repair and maintenance of the site is needed and the first action should be to start a campaign bringing together the means and efforts of interested parties for this purpose.