|image via hayalleme.com|
Known to locals as the Red Palace, the orphanage was originally built by a French company as the Prinkipo Palas hotel. The luxury property was well equipped with a theater, dining hall, library, chapel, and (the Achilles heel) a game room for a planned casino on par with Monte Carlo. The hotel never opened because gambling is forbidden under Islamic law.
How on earth did someone think they could build a casino in the clearly Islamic Ottoman empire? There was a golden age of European investment in Turkey around the fin de siècle, amazing hotels included, but there seems to have been a change in local leadership by the time the hotel was being completed. Everybody's plans ran amok.
From what I can translate:
The Greek Orthodox community gathered funds, facilitated with a large grant and initiative by a banker's widow, purchased and then gifted the building to the Phanar Greek Orthodox Patriarchate for use as an orphanage. By 1964, the dwindling Greek orthodox population had no need for a 206 room structure. (Claimed to be the largest wooden structure in Europe - I read 85,000 sq. ft/26,000 sq. m) The site has been closed ever since.
The Turkish government reinstated the deed to the Patriarchate last November. Hopefully, this means someone will pick up a paint brush and save this amazing piece of architecture. Wouldn't it be nice if it were a grand hotel once more?
|Image: Realleo via Panoramio.com|
This is what the view should resemble, though this was taken down the hill a bit.
|Image: Mert 16 via Panoramio.com|
Google maps has a brilliant bird's eye perspective on this, with all sorts of zoomable pics. Anyone know how to embed that kind of stuff?
Büyükada Orphanage in Istanbul to be Transferred to Greek Patriarchate - Hurriyet Daily News