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Built at the end of the 19th century on an island off Istanbul, this unique six-story structure once served as a home for Greek Orthodox orphans until it was shut down in the early 1960s.Situated atop a hill on Buyukada, one of the Princes' Islands in the Sea of Marmara, it is about 90 minutes by ferry from central Istanbul.Designed by Alexandre Vallaury, the Franco-Ottoman architect behind Istanbul's Pera Palace Hotel, the hotel was completed in 1898 .With its grand plans floored, the timber-framed structure was sold to the wife of a rich banker from the city's Greek minority who then gave it to the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.Since the orphanage closed, the building has taken on the air of a haunted house, with staring empty windows and crows perching in the many holes that pock its dull brown facade.Despite its dilapidated exterior, some of the 220 rooms inside still retain vestiges of splendor, such as the ballroom with its boxes and balconies, its columns and its once-lustrous parquet floors.Today, Istanbul's Greek Orthodox minority, which only numbers around 3,000, is determined to save the dilapidated structure before time runs out.
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