An international working meeting for the rescue of the only building of the Prinkipo Greek Orthodox Orphanage is taking place today in Constantinople, as reported by makthes.gr.
As of yesterday, 15 distinguished scientists from abroad are in Constantinople in order to participate in the work related to the rescue and promotion of the Prinkipo Orphanage, this unique wooden building that belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Along with a delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, they visited the Prinkipos, where they met Elder Metropolitan Dimitrios of the Princes’ Islands. They then had contacts with the Mayor and the Prefect of the Princes’ Islands and conducted an inspection on the historic building.
A working meeting chaired by the Ecumenical Patriarch will be held today at the Ecumenical Patriarchate on what should be done to save and make better use of the Orphanage.
The Prinkipo Orphanage, Europe’s largest wooden building, opened its doors at the end of last August for the first time in 57 years to welcome all those taking part in an event for his rescue and restoration, at which Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew spoke. Today’s working meeting at the Ecumenical Patriarchate is part of this initiative.
Despite being on the list of endangered European cultural monuments, the largest wooden building in Europe and the second largest in the world was abandoned by the Turkish authorities, resulting in some parts collapsing, as scientists recorded in 2020.
History of Prinkipo Orphanage
From 1964 until its abandonment until today, no work had begun on the maintenance of the 120-year-old six-storey building. The building was designed by French architect Alexander Vallaury for the company that also managed the famous Orient Express.
The works were completed in 1898. It first operated as a luxury hotel and casino. However, Sultan Abdul Hamid II refused to grant a permit for its operation.
The building was purchased by the wife of a prominent Greek banker, Eleni Zarifi, and was donated to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
In 1903 the building became an orphanage and home for about 5,800 minority Greek children from 1903 to 1964, when it was forced to close during heightened tension of Turkey and Greece. The building became the scene of a dispute between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Turkish government, which seized it in 1997.
It was returned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in 2010. The building belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and efforts are being made for the Turkish side to contribute to its restoration.