As on the other islands, motorized vehicles – except service vehicles – are forbidden, so visitors explore the island by foot; by riding a bicycle (numerous bicycle shops rent them with hourly prices); or in horse-drawn phaeton carriages which function like taxi cabs, also offering "round-the-island" sightseeing tours.
A convent on Büyükada was the place of exile for the Byzantine empresses Irene, Euphrosyne, Theophano, Zoe and Anna Dalassena. After his deportation from the Soviet Union in February 1929, Leon Trotsky also stayed for four years on Büyükada, his first station in exile. Princess Fahrelnissa Zeid was born in the island.
There are several historical buildings on Büyükada, such as the Ayia Yorgi Church and Monastery dating back to the sixth century, the Ayios Dimitrios Church, and the Hamidiye Mosque built by Abdul Hamid II. Büyükada consists of two peaks. The one nearest to the iskele (ferry landing), Hristos, is topped by the former Greek Orphanage, a huge wooden building now in decay. In the valley between the two hills sit the church and monastery of Ayios Nikolaos and a former fairground called Luna Park. Visitors can take the 'small tour' of the island by buggy, leading to this point, from where it is an easy climb to Ayia Yorgi, a tiny church with a cafe on the grounds serving wine, chips and sausage sandwiches, this being part of the "classic" Ayia Yorgi (St. George, in Greek: Άγιος Γεώργιος) experience.
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