Restoration of historic Greek orphanage needs ‘big budget’

Restoration of historic Greek orphanage needs ‘big budget’

Restoration of historic Greek orphanage needs ‘big budget’

Described as Europe’s largest wooden building, the Prinkipo Greek Orphanage in Büyükada, the largest of Istanbul’s nine Princes’ Islands, will be saved from a possible collapse with a planned but expensive restoration work.

The historic structure will require some 20 million euros for restoration, according to experts, who completed surveying the building following long delays.

Carrying out a comprehensive surveying work regarding the iconic site, Nazım Akkoyunlu, an official of BİMTAŞ, a company run by the Istanbul Municipality, said that the building was in need of a swift restoration, but it would require a big budget.

“The investigations of the Protection Board No. 5 continue at the moment. The restoration projects of the building will be prepared quickly when the results are approved by the board,” Akkoyunlu noted.

Deemed as one of the seven most endangered cultural heritage sites by an international organization, the orphanage was originally built to be a casino and hotel by Compagnie des Wagons-Lits, the travel firm that operated the Orient Express train.

When Sultan Abdulhamid II rejected to grant a casino license for it, the building was eventually purchased by a wealthy Greek family upon the request of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, opening it as an orphanage for Greek children in 1903.

It resumed serving as an orphanage after the war, but it was ordered to be evacuated in 1964, at a time of heightened ethnic tensions between Turks and Greeks.