Marmara Island (Turkish: Marmara Adası) is a Turkish island in the Sea of Marmara. With an area of 117.8 km2 (45.5 sq mi) it is the largest island in the Sea of Marmara and is the second largest island of Turkey after Gökçeada (older name in Turkish: İmroz; Greek: Ίμβρος Imvros). It is the center of Marmara district in Balıkesir Province. Transportation is possible from Istanbul by ship and ferry, and by motorboat from Tekirdağ and Erdek. Famed for their wine and fish, Marmara and Avsa offer wonderful shorelines. Marmara island is full of historical treasures which increase its attractiveness. The town of "Mermer Plaj" / Marble Beach takes its name from the marbles for which the town is famous.
In ancient times the island was called Proikonesos (Προικόνησος) or Prokonnesos (Προκόννησος), Latinized as Proconnesus. The modern name "Marmara" is derived from the Greek μάρμαρον (marmaron) and that from μάρμαρος (mármaros), "crystalline rock", "shining stone", perhaps from the verb μαρμαίρω (marmaírō), "to flash, sparkle, gleam", because it was famous for the white marble quarried there. Under the name Proconnesus it is a titular see of the Roman Catholic Church (the see is currently vacant), and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Historical evidence of the first Hellenic presence on the island of Marmara (ancient Prokonnessos) came with the early colonization of Ionian Greeks in the 8th century BC. Stories and legends identify the island as a visiting place of Jason and the Argonauts and with the Hellenic expedition against Troy. In 493 BC it was burned by a Phœnician fleet fighting for Darius. In 410 Alcibiades conquered it for Athens.
During the Diocletianic Persecution the Emperor Diocletian ordered low-status Manichaeans to be executed while high-status Manichaeans were to be sent to work in the quarries of Proconnesus or the mines of Phaeno.
During the reign of Constantine the Great in the 4th century notable aristocracy from Constantinople first settled on the island. By 569, many Byzantine aristocrats had built palaces on the island that they had accepted as their home. The greatest palace of this period was built by the Emperor Justinian I. With the Emperor came a large entourage of nobility, palace guards, tradesmen, and servants. Justinian also built a large convent on Marmara that is one of the earliest in recorded history. The Byzantine royal presence on the island was strongly felt through strong ties to the Patriarchate of Constantinople. During most of its history, the island was called "Proikonnesos" (island of the royal dowry), and "Prinkipo", (island of the aristocracy).
From the fall of the Byzantine Empire to the years directly following World War I, the island was almost exclusively populated by Greek Orthodox Greeks . During World War I much of the population was forced off of the island onto the mainland. And, following the war, as a result of the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne and the population exchange between Greece and Turkey, all remaining Greeks native to the island of Marmara emigrated to Greece and other locations around the globe.
The island's Greek Orthodox diaspora settled primarily in New Marmara, the island of Euboea, in Greece and in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki. Still others from the island settled in the Americas, primarily in the USA, in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Oregon and the Seattle/Tacoma, Washington area. As well, still others emigrated to Canada, Australia and South America.
On 4 January 1935 at 16:41:29 local time, an earthquake hit the Marmara Island and its neighboring islands Avşa and Paşalimanı, causing five deaths, 30 persons injured and several villages destroyed.
- "Proconnesus". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Marmaron, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
- Marmaros, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
- Marble, Compact Oxford English Dictionary
- Marmairō, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus
- Proconnesus catholic-hierarchy.org
- "Erdek-Marmara Adaları Depremi 04 Ocak 1935" (in Turkish). İBB AKOM. Retrieved 2010-11-08.
- Papers presented to the II. National Symposium on the Aegean Islands, 2–3 July 2004, Gökçeada, Çanakkale
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