Restoration project of historic Greek Prinkipo orphanage approved


The restoration of Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage on Istanbul’s Büyükada, the largest of the Princes’ Islands, has been approved by the Council of Monuments.

Laki Vingas, the project coordinator of the restoration, said that the work will begin at the end of the year following the approval given on Aug. 25 for the restoration of the orphanage, which is considered the largest wooden building in Europe.

Stating that he wants to move to the next phase as soon as possible, Vingas said, “Our biggest desire is to make an environmentally friendly building to protect both culture and architecture. It is a natural wonder, so we want it to be restored in a way that is respectful to nature.”

“For the implementation phase, we created a science committee including architects, art history experts and civil engineers,” Vingas said.

“We will meet with firms deemed appropriate by the scientific committee as we hope to complete this process as soon as possible. I guess it will be completed in one and half years if financial resources are available,” Vingas added.

Spread across five storeys, the edifice comprising 206 rooms was constructed by French architect Alexander Vallaury in 1898 as a hotel but later was bought by the wife of a Greek banker, Eleni Zarifi, who later donated the building to the Patriarchate which operated it as an orphanage.

Situated atop a hill on the island, the building was evacuated due to “the risk of fire and the lack of security for the children” in 1964, according to the project’s website.

In 2018, Europa Nostra, a pan-European federation for cultural heritage, placed the building on the list of the seven most endangered heritage sites in Europe.

A group of experts, including engineers, city planners, art historians and topographers, from various parts of the world gathered for the restoration of the orphanage, examining the latest state of the structure and the surroundings.