Church & Monastery of St George


in Büyükada

There's not a lot to see at this Greek Orthodox monastery complex located on a 203m-high hill known as Yücetepe, but the panoramic views from the monastery terrace make the hour-long trek worthwhile. A small church is the only building of note, so most visitors spend their time at the pleasant Yücetepe Kır Gazinosu restaurant. Its outdoor tables have views to İstanbul and the nearby islands of Yassıada and Sivriada. You'll need to be dressed modestly to enter the church.

To walk here, head from the ferry to the clock tower in İskele Meydanı (Dock Sq). The shopping district (with cheap eateries) is left along Recep Koç Sokak. Bear right onto 23 Nisan Caddesi, then head along Çankaya Caddesi up the hill to the monastery; when you come to a fork in the road, veer right. The walk, which takes at least one hour, takes you past a long progression of impressive wooden villas set in gardens. After 40 minutes or so you will reach a reserve called 'Luna Park' by the locals. The monastery is a 25-minute walk up an extremely steep hill from here. As you ascend, you'll sometimes see pieces of cloth tied to the branches of trees along the path – each represents a prayer, most made by female supplicants visiting the monastery to pray for a child. Once a year, on 23 April, thousands of pilgrims – Greek Orthodox and Muslim – make their way up the hill to pay their respects to St George.