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The name of the islands comes from the Byzantine period, when royal princes and empresses were exiled there. With the intruduction of steamboats during the late Ottoman period around the 19th century, these islands became popular resorts for the rich people who built their wooden houses. Jewish, Greek and Armenian communities were a large part of the inhabitants here. Today, the islands are popular tourist destinations for daily excursions especially in the summer time. There are many monasteries and historic buildings on the islands, besides 19th century Victorian style old wooden mansions.

Buyukada is the biggest and the most famous of Princess Islands, having an area of 5,4 square kilometers and a population of 7.500 approximately, which goes up to 10-15 times more in the summer. Earlier name of the island was Prinkipo. There are some historical buildings such as Aya Yorgi Church and Monastery from 6th century, Ayios Dimitrios Church, Hristos Church and Monastery, and Hamidiye Mosque built by sultan Abdulhamit II. When you rent a horse-drawn carriage, you can choose between a long route and a short one to visit the island. South of Buyukada is very calm and forested, but the northern side is a heavy residential area being close to the pier, therefore most of the private yachts anchor on the southern tip. Dil promontory on the west is a favorite spot for picnickers. Yoruk Ali beach, Princess beach, Kumsal beach and Nakibey beach are open to th public for swimmers.

A long route or a short route can be chosen to visit the island when you rent a carriage. Unlike the calm and forested southern part, the northern part of Buyukada is a heavy residential area being close to the pier, therefore most of the private yachts anchor on the southern tip. Dil promontory is a favorite spot for picnickers.