The Last Greeks of Princes’ Islands – Α Documentary

In 2009, we visited the Princes’ Islands for the first time to discover some amazing Greeks, that -to this day- live there. They are the last guards of Greek history and culture on these beautiful islands where the Greek population has gone from tens of thousands to only 80. Watch our short documentary below and see The Last Greeks of Princes Islands talking about the Greek past and future of the Islands. Original music composed by Ioannis Goudelis. 

It is not easy to see people expelled from their homes, especially when the story is personally told by one of them who decided to go back and save the house in which he was born. It is a long and painful story with lots of political mistakes. According to the Greek residents of Princes Islands, the hatred between Turks and Greeks belongs to the past and Turkey is more tolerant to minorities and people of Greek decent who live in harmony with the Turks. But today, there are only 80 Greeks left on the Islands that are only a few miles away from Istanbul in the Marmara Sea.

“Things have changed, the Turks understood that there many prophets but one God” says Yanni, a local who came to live in his 300 hundred year old family home after being absent for 16 years. He was one of thousands who left after the turmoil in Izmir and the Turkish invasion of Cyprus. When he was born there were tens of thousands of Greek people on the island of Prinkipos (Buyukada in Turkish), but now there are about 80 Greeks on all five of The Princes Islands that are inhabited. These pieces of land are a tourist attraction today, but in the past the Islands used to be commercial centers that housed many famous Greek merchants. Even from the years of Byzantium the emperors had discovered the natural beauty and the sense of tranquility that the land offers. To this day there are no cars on the island and the transportation is done with horse-carts and bicycles. This is why if you get away from the small tourist center you will feel that the time has turned 50 years back.

“In a few years there will be no Greek people on the islands” said a Greek man who was born on Prinkipos but now lives in Athens. “This is the truth and people do not want to admit it because it hurts.”

Halki: A Special Place for Greeks

Halki was famous for its Christian Orthodox Academy. The reopening of the institution which was closed in 1971 by the Turkish authorities has been a request of the Patriarchate of Constantinople for years. The last years the Turkish government has stated that is trying to find a solution for the reopening of the Academy. On the island used to be many Greeks until the 1960’s. Today there are only eleven from whom most are older than 80 years old.

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