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The story behind the Princes’s Islands dates back to the Byzantine period, when princes, empresses and other royalties were exiled on the islands. Later members of the Ottoman Empire, the Sultans, were exiled there, giving the islands their present name. It was called the People’s Isles. It came to be known during Byzantine times as Papadonisia, the Islands of the Monks, due to the many monasteries who had been established themselves on the various isles. These monasteries became very famous because of the the emperors, empresses, and patriarchs who were exiled there, some of whom never returned to Constantinople.

According to the Byzantine chronicler Kedrenos, the emperor built himself a palace and monastery on the largest of the islands in 569. This isle had been known as Megale, or the Great, but after the emperor established residence there, it came to be known as Prinkipo, the Isle of the Prince. Later the entire archipelago came to be called the Princes’ Isles.

Around the 19th century, during the late Ottoman period, these islands became popular resorts for the rich people who built their wooden houses with to the introduction of steamboats.

During the Byzantine era, Prinkipo and other three islands were inhabited almost entirely by the Greek fishermen, mariners, and their families and the Armenians.

Wealthy Turkish and Jewish families took up residence on the islands during the late Ottoman era as well along with a few foreign diplomats and businessmen, particularly on Büyükada. Although, there are still significant Armenian and Jewish communities on some of the islands, and also a number of Greeks, today the vast majority of the inhabitants are Turkish.

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