A historic building that hosted thousands of Greek minority children, the orphanage in Büyükada which belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is in danger of collapse, and the need for restoration is now imperative. The building which has turned 120 was constructed in 1899 as a hotel and casino during the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. It was bought by a Greek banker's wife and was donated to the Patriarchate, which used it as an orphanage.
From 1903 to 1964, this charming building hosted 5,800 Greek minority orphans who found safety and a welcoming embrace. However, the crisis between Greece and Turkey and the subsequent political crisis in Cyprus inevitably led to the closing and the abandonment of the orphanage.
In 1997 the Turkish State confiscated it from the Patriarchate, which claimed it through European bodies. In 2010 the ownership was returned to the Patriarchate by a decision of the European Court of Human Rights. It is included among the seven cultural monuments that are in danger of being destroyed for thus a group of experts from the Europa Nostra and the Institute of the European Investment Bank has convened a group of experts who work towards the immediate intervention and the submission of proposals for the "salvation" of the building. The Patriarchate wishes to turn the building into an Institute for the environment, which is also in danger and its rescue is considered necessary for the future of the planet.