Seagull Station; Burgaz Island

The humblest of the Istanbul islands, Burgaz Island, awaits those seeking a quiet haven with its streets where the cries of seagulls echo, rural countryside that gives inspiration to writers, elegant houses.

As soon as you step foot on Burgaz Island, you will feel like you are in one of Sait Faik’s novels. Colorful boats, fishermen in love with loneliness, lounging cats and large wooden houses filled with memories of recent times… In coffee shops on the Harbor Square that was once surrounded by famous open-air cafes, the pleasure of drinking Melissa and sage tea is insatiable.  It is claimed that Istanbul’s most delicious ice cream is sold in pastry shops in this area.

A tour of Burgaz Island would be incomplete without a stop at the historical large wooden house where Sait Faik, one of Turkish literature’s great authors, lived for many years. The house where the writer left a priceless heritage of immortal works after his days on the island is today a museum. Situated in a beautiful garden, the house holds a display of his hand written documents, photographs, letters, books and personal objects.

If you begin at the center of the island and follow Gönüllü Boulevard, you will see that the most beautiful examples of the island’s large wooden houses are lined up on the right and left. The newest of which is a century-old, these structures carry the elegant lines of Ottoman architecture. These houses are striking with their ornamented bay windows and carved wooden frames, and they have a common characteristic of large gardens. The facades with wooden columns are among the original architectural details of these island houses.

Kalpazankaya, which can be reached with a half an hour walk, by horse and carriage or by tour boats, is one of the spots on the island that must be seen. With its brisk winds that prevent one from feeling the heat of the summer, this beautiful piece of nature is bordered by forests on one side and the sea on the other. The small village just below it is ideal for sun tanning and swimming in the sea. Also the fish and “kuyu kebab” in local outdoor cafés is very delicious.

What do you say to seeing the famous hill where, together with his dog, Sait Faik sat under a big pine tree facing the sea and wrote his stories? After walking around a little on the wooded hill that gave inspiration to writers, we recommend that you walk down the road that leads to the coast. Turning towards the sea, you should take a break on the edge of the cliff at the place where the dirt road finished. You will be rewarded with the soaring seagulls.

During the Byzantine period Burgaz served as a place of exile where princes and religious figures were sentenced to death. Part of the prisons in the island’s remote corners can still be seen. One of these places is the cells in the Hagia Yani Church which was built on the foundation of an old 9th century Byzantine monastery.

Thought to have been made in the 17th century, the monastery was built just under the Cennet Road. The three-storey rectangular stone building was used by the White Russians in the 1920’s. The church in the pine tree filled level area above the monastery was constructed in the 19th century. With the pictures and icons adorning its walls, the church interior resembles a museum. The silver and wood carving in the decoration are striking.