The Greek Orphanage on Istanbul’s Büyükada, largest of the Princes’ Islands, has been included in the “Seven Most Endangered” programme for 2018 by Europa Nova, the leading heritage organization in Europe, and the European Investment Bank Institute.
A panel of experts announced In January that the orphanage was among 12 heritage sites shortlisted for the programme, and on March 15, the final list of the “Seven Most Endangered” Heritage Sites was announced.
The Greek orphanage is considered as the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world. It is located on Büyükada, formerly Prinkipo, off the coast of Istanbul. The timber framed structure features elaborately decorated wooden columns in the grand hall and panelled ceilings with decorative mouldings.
Spread across five storeys, the building comprises 206 rooms. The building was designed by French architect Alexandre Vallaury in 1899. The building functioned as an orphanage until its closure in 1964. Since then, it has been closed to any operation.
A statement issued by Europa Nostra said: “Today the building is exposed to adverse weather conditions. Sections of the roof and corner posts have already fallen and the Orphanage is now at immediate risk of further collapse.”
“The setting up of a Centre of Environmental and Interreligious Dialogue in the building, as conceived by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, could figure as the most appropriate future use of the Orphanage,” it also said.
The “7 Most Endangered” programme was launched in January 2013 by Europa Nostra with the European Investment Bank Institute as a founding partner. The 7 Most Endangered is not indicated as a funding programme. “Its aim is to serve as a catalyst for action and to promote ‘the power of example,’” reads Europa Nostra’s website.
The other endangered heritage landmarks in Europe are as follows: The Post-Byzantine Churches in Voskopoja and Vithkuqi in Albania, the Historical Centre of Vienna in Austria, the Buzludzha Monument in Bulgaria, the David Gareji Monasteries and Hermitage in Georgia, the Constanta Casino in Romania and the Grimsby Ice Factory in the United Kingdom.