We want to talk about the “Prinkipo” Greek Orphanage in Büyükada and to share its current situation due to our interest in the timber structures.

Buyukada Greek Orphanage, or “Prinkipo” Greek Orphanage, is located at Buyukada’s Manastir Tepesi*. It was built in 1898-1899. The architect of the building was Alexandre Vallaury, one of the famous architects of his time. The building, which was first built as a hotel by a French company, was later used as a Greek orphanage. Prinkipo is a very important building in terms of wood engineering; because it is said to be the largest wooden building in Europe, the second largest multi-storey timber structure in the world. Prinkipo was made entirely of wood materials by utilizing the techniques of the period; Prinkipo, which is filled with hand-crafted staircases, omniscient handrails and detailed craftsmanship, is unfortunately abandoned to its fate since 1964.

Due to the special importance we give to timber engineering at ATTEC, we would like to re-take part in the restoration project with our knowledge and experience when one day restoration decision is taken for Prinkipo. In 2010 we took part as an engineering consultant in the restoration project initiated by Fener Greek Patriarchate and its architect, Nicholas KOUTSOMITİS. Despite the support of the National Timber Association to the restoration process, the deterioration and collapses caused by nature such as rain, wind and earthquakes have worsened its condition and today it has become almost impossible to get inside Prinkipo.

I have a father from Buyukada and a mother from Heybeliada. I am always impressed when I see Prinkipo. I hope that this magnificent timber building, which is trying to survive despite natural disasters and weather conditions, will someday be restored without losing its characteristics. It will make me happy to see its every detail and to walk around the building.

* Hristos Hill, which means “Jesus Christ” in Greek.

** Some of the images used in the article belong to Ziya Tacir’s “Rum Yetimhanesi/Prinkipo Orphanage” photography series. More images about the orphanage can be found at www.ziyatacir.com.tr


Betül Pamuk: 1986. Office Administrator. She graduated from Tourism and Hospitality College. Playing tennis, swimming, and watching movies are a lifestyle for her. Amateur photography, research, and reading and exploring about historical structures are her life excitements now....until she will find something better.