Aya Yorgi Church and Monastery, which is a difficult structure to climb and a magnificent view, is a summit you must reach during your visit to Büyükada.
The highest hill of Büyükada is the hill where the Monastery of Hagia Yorgi is located. Aya Yorgi Church is one of the many churches in the area, which is reached after a long, long, breathless and tiring 1 km walk from Birlik Square where the horses gather.
Monasteries are built so far away from people because they are not places of worship open to everyone, but rather worship structures built so that no one can visit them. The people who work inside, called monks, are completely devoted to worship. Monks are chosen from orphans without parents in order to be isolated from society. The monks have the idea that where there are people, there is evil. This is why the buildings were built far away. The Monastery of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus and the Sumela Monastery in Trabzon were built with a similar logic.
The church is popularly known as Aya Yorgi, but its real name is Agios Georgios Greek Orthodox Monastery. It was built in 1751 in honor of Georgios, a Roman soldier who was killed by pagans on April 23, 303 for his Christian faith and was later declared a saint because he was killed for his religion. April 23rd is therefore a holy day for Christians. September 24 is the commemoration of Aya Thekla, who devoted herself to the religion of Paulus, the apostle of Jesus Christ. Every year on April 23 and September 24, the holy days of the church, many people visit the church and pray. As you ascend the slope, you can see wishing napkins, plastic bottle wrappers and strings stretched on the ground hanging from the trees on the right and left sides. Each of them is hung to make a wish come true.
The Church of St. Yorgi, built in 1905 and located behind the bell tower, holds such an important place for Christians because it is the monastery accepted by the Archdiocese in Turkey. The most important cross point after the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, those who go barefoot on holy days to the Church of Aya Yorgi attain the status of semi-pilgrimage.
There is also a legend of St. Georgios that circulates from ear to ear. According to the legend of the Saint George icon in the church, the priests of the island, which had its share of occupation during the Byzantine Period, buried the icon and other sacred items in the ground. Many years later, a saint named Aya Yorgos, also known as Aya Yorgi, enters a shepherd’s dream and asks him to climb the slope on the island and dig the soil where he was when he heard the sound of the bell. When he had the same dream for a few days, he dug up the icon and the sacred objects that are on display today.
Many visitors who wish to have their prayers answered on holy days must arrive on the island early in the morning and climb up to the church. However, it is not enough just to make it up to the church for their wishes to be granted. They need to get a key or a bell from the church. Those whose wishes are granted have to take the items they received from the church back to the church.
There are many ways to make a wish. Tying a rope to the bushes is one of them. It is thought that those who unroll the rope from the spool to the end of the road will have their fortune opened. Writing your wishes on a piece of paper and throwing it into the wish box in the church is another way to make a wish. You can light candles in the church for your wishes and plant them in the sand. The graves on the side of the church belong to the people who served and lost their lives when the church was built. On the left side of the church is Yücetepe Kır Gazinosu, founded by İsmail Kulak in 1978. A cup of tea with a view of Sedef Island will do you and your loved ones good.