Henry Fanshawe Tozer.

Researches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) online

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terest, but in passing through it the eye is everywhere
refreshed by the abundance of water, which gushes
forth from walls in unexpected places, and courses at
will down the middle of the rough pavement of the
streets. The point where the stream divides at the
back of the city is the favourite lounge of the wealthier
citizens, and is admirably adapted for Oriental enjoy-
ment. Here twelve enormous plane-trees rise together
in a group, affording a grateful shade, and forming a dim
twilight of glancing green, while the ear is soothed by the
murmur of rushing waters. The division of the river
is said to be of natural formation, but at present its
appearance is certainly artificial. Its numerous branches,
together with the cascades below, have given the city its
Slavonic name of Vodena, or "the place of waters " {yoda,
Slav, for " water ").'^

The valley behind Vodena is green and fertile, and at
its head the Rente Imperiale, which in this part for some
little distance is a very fair road, winds up a steep moun-
tain-side, commanding superb views over the town and
the wide expanse to the east. We were now leaving-
lower Macedonia, and entering the upper and more
mountainous districts of that province. At intervals the
valley opened out into narrow plains, the green vegeta-
tion of which might at a distance be taken for rich crops,

'2 The ancient name, Edessa, had the same signification, being derived
from bedii, the Phrygian word for "water." .Similarly the Edessa in
Mesopotamia is said by Stephanus to have received its name from the
force of its waters. vEgre, also, the earlier name of the Macedonian
Edessa, perhaps corresponds in meaning to our "springs."

158 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII.

but in reality is nothing but the waving reeds that cover
undrained morasses. At the sides of the roads are nume-
rous melon gardens, which, being entirely open, render
necessary a constant watch. Thus at some conspicuous
point a shed of branches is raised upon a small platform
to shelter the guardian of the fruit. The weather had
now cleared up, and was bright and fresh, and in conse-
quence of the rain, and the wonderful transparency of the
atmosphere, every leaf on the trees, and every stalk of
maize, was clearly defined and extraordinarily bright.
From this time until we reached Corfu, though travelling
in so hilly a country as Albania, we had a continuance of
almost unbroken sunshine. The upper part of the pass
was rugged and uncultivated. When we began to descend
on the other side, we came in sight successively of two
lakes ; first, the small lake of Gugova, which is situated
high up a hill-side ; and afterwards that of Ostrovo, a
large sheet of water, which appears ten miles long by two
broad, running nearly from north to south, and deeply
imbedded amongst wild and bare mountains, one of
which, above the head of the lake, was sprinkled with
snow. This was the peak of Mount Nidje, the highest
point in all the district, reaching an elevation of between
seven and eight thousand feet ; in respect of its position
also it is important, since the mountain system of these
parts may be regarded as culminating in it, while to the
north of it commences the Babuna range, which forms
the eastern boundary of the plain of Monastir.

From the village of Ostrovo, which lies on the shore
near the upper end, the object which most attracts the
eye is a single mosque with a minaret by its side, which
rises out of the water at the distance of half a mile. On
inquiring from the inhabitants the history of this building,
we found that it is the remains of a submerged town,

Chap, VII, Lake of Ostrovo. 159

which formerly extended from this point to the present
line of the shore. Less than a century ago there was no
lake in this region, and many towns existed in various
parts of the valley ; but about sixty years from the pre-
sent time (so we were told) the waters rose and over-
whelmed all the lower part of the valley ; and about
twenty-five years ago there was a further rise, and all but
a small part of the town of Ostrovo was submerged.
Again, in 1859, the lake rose several feet, but fortunately
retired again : the signs of this last inundation are trace-
able in several places about the head of the lake. The
explanation of this phenomenon is to be found in the
formation of the valley, which, like those in the Morea,
which contain the lakes of Pheneus and Stymphalus, is
so closely hemmed in by the mountains that it has no
escape for its waters. No doubt, as in the case of these
lakes, there is a subterranean channel, by which the
water was formerly carried off, and discharged in the
form of a river at a considerable distance, and the lake
was formed in consequence of the stoppage of the chan-
nel ; so that at some future time, when the weight of
water is sufficient to remove the obstruction, the lake
of Ostrovo may again be replaced by a green valley, and
its submerged towns may reappear. When I visited the
lake Stymphalus in the spring of 1853, the waters were
low, and the cavern, which formed the mouth of the out-
let, or Catavothra, as it is called (ra KaTa/3dpadpa, Kara-
fiwOpa), was visible: the people of these parts did not
know of the existence of such a place, but of course,
while the lake is full, it is covered by the water. At
the same time I should mention that, on bathing near the
village, we found the water deep close to the shore, and
that there is reason to believe that a lake, though not
necessarily of any size, existed here in former times.

i6o Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII.

The name of Ostrovo is in itself an evidence of this, being-
derived from Ostrov, the Slavonic word for "island."
But it is possible that at one period in the interval the
lake may have become completely dry.'^

The phenomena just mentioned seem to have given
rise to a variety of legends among the ancient Greeks,
such as that of Alpheius pursuing Arethusa beneath the
sea, and the reappearance of the latter as a fountain in
the island of Ortygia at Syracuse. A curious version of
this legend arose at a later period, after it had been
modified, apparently, by the pious fancies of Christian
pilgrims. It is mentioned by Marifiotti, an old Italian
writer, ^^ that the Syracusans of his time gave credit to a
popular tradition concerning this fountain, that there
existed a connexion between it and the river Jordan,
since in autumn the fountain was said to throw up leaves
of such trees as were known to flourish only on the
banks of that river. A similar story with regard to the
Alpheius still exists in the islands of the Strophades,
which lie off the west coast of the Morea. In the
account of those islands, appended to his book on the
' Condition of the Greek Church,' Dean Waddington
tells us : " There exists a traditionary circumstance, by
which it would seem that nature has intended a perpetual
union between the Strophades and the continent ; for
the monks inform me of faithful records to prove that
the Alpheius has frequently presented himself at a well
in this island, and deposited there shrubs, flowers, roots,
or leaves, which had been confided to him in Elis. The

^2 The MedicEvals seem to have had the idea of there being a catavothra
from the lake of Ostrovo, but they supposed its waters to be carried to
Vodena. Thus Cedrenus writes (ii. p. 453, ed. Bonn): — " (ppovptov Se tq
BoSrji'a eirl TreVpas anoToixov Ke'iuevov, 5i' 7)$ KaTappe7 rh ttJs \tfj.VT)S rov
OcTTpofiov v5up vnh yrjs KarcvOiv pfov oK^araJs KaKi^cre ira\iv viroSvoixevoy.
" Quoted in Wilkinson's 'Magna Grajcia,' p. 15.

Chap. VII. Subterranean CJiaiincls. i6r

monks, who are certainly not very credulous except
where their superstitions are concerned, are bold enough
to disbelieve this story ; but to me it seems nothing
improbable that in his subteraqueous journey to visit
his Arethusa, the old river god should pause at this
delightful resting-place, and here resign some portion of
the tribute intended for his Syracusan mistress." ^^ The
ancients had not failed to notice the same phenomenon.
Thus Pliny, in one of his Letters, speaks of a lake being
carried off by a river, " but when this has been visible for
a short time, it disappears in a cavern, and flows at a
great depth below ; and whatever it received before it
was engulfed is preserved and brought forth again." ^''
Catullus also has framed a somewhat laboured simile
out of the disappearance of the water of the lake
Pheneus, —

" 'Twas then, Laodamia, oh most fair !

From thee was torn a husband, prized above
Thy life and soul ; so wert thou hurried there, ;

Upon the whirling torrent of thy love,

" Into a steep-down gulf, as dark and deep

As that which erst, in Grecian story famed,
Where rolls Pheneus by Cyllene's steep,

From oozy marsh the fertile soil reclaim'd." "

In cases where the river reappears at a great distance
from the lake which supplies it with water, such as the
instance which Herodotus mentions, of the Erasinus
in Argolis being connected with the Stymphalian lakc,'^
the real way in which the correspondence is proved is

lo <■ Waddington, on the Greek Church,' p. 105.

^^ Pliny, viii. 20.

'7 Catull., Ixviii. 109 (Theodore Martin's translation). Mr. Martin
reads Peiieus, which does not suit the passage, and the word is pronounced

'^ Herod, vi. 76.


1 62 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VI L

by the subsidence of the one coinciding with the overflow
of the other.^^

We rode round the head of the lake, the heavy oppres-
sive atmosphere of which reminded my companion of that
of the Dead Sea, and ascended the rough stony heights
on the other side, leading up to the pass which connects
this valley with the plain of Monastir. From one point
we caught a glimpse of another lake to the south ; not,
however (as Mr. Lear says, in his 'Journals of a Land-
scape Painter'), the lake of Castoria, which is hidden
by intervening mountains, but that of Sarigol. At the
summit of the pass we stopped the night at the village
of Gurnitzovo, the inhabitants of which we at once
discovered to be Christians by two infallible signs, one
negative and the other positive — the absence of minarets,
and the presence of pigs. These signs have been noticed
by other travellers. In the Journal of the Patriarch
Macarius we find the observation, "There is a church
in the town, and hogs feed at large in the streets,"
and Dr. Walsh, in his 'Journey from Constantinople to
England,' says of a village in Bulgaria, " Its appearance
at once struck me that I had got into a Christian
country. In the green before the houses was a large
herd of swine, the first I had seen since my arrival in
Turkey." In consequence of the pig being in this
manner a Christian animal, there is a tax on pigs in
Turkey, and this at the present time is of a very oppres-
sive character. Up to the year 1858 it was moderate
enough, but since that date the rate has been ten piastres

'^ The numerous words used in Greek to describe this phenomenon
show how famihar it must have been to the ancients. Thus the subter-
ranean passage itself was called ^dpadpov (in Arcadia, CepeOpov), fiodpos,
iropos, peldpov virSvofJiov, ivav\os. iKpvcris. The entrance was termed xaf/^O)
the exit e/cprjlis, 4K^o\r], avafioXi], avaxoi]. See Ulrichs' ' Reisen in Griechen-
laiid,' p. 223,

Chap, VII, Pigs in Turkey. 163

(about twenty pence) per head, which is charged when
the animal is three months' old. The risk incurred from
the payment of so large a tax on so young an animal is
so great, that many of them are killed shortly after
birth, and the decrease in the numbers bred of late years
has been fully 50 per cent. In this way an important
article of food is being lost to the peasantry, and sub-
sistence rendered more difficult to them, without any
corresponding advantage to the exchequer of the
empire.'^'' The subject population in the country districts
of all this part of Turkey is composed of Bulgarian
Christians ; there is also a considerable Turkish popula-
tion, and the two races are found sometimes, as at
Ostrovo, living together in the same village, sometimes in
separate villages. Gurnitzovo was sold by the Porte to
Ali Pasha, or, more probably, was forcibly seized by
him, and reduced to the condition of a farm, or peculiar.
The same thing occurred to a great number of places
throughout Thessaly and Epirus. On the death of that
chieftain, and the overthrow of his government, the Porte
thought fit to retain them as government farms, and in
addition to this they are taxed most unmercifully. The
people here complained bitterly of their condition. The
imperial farms are said to be very badly managed, even
as regards the land itself ; for since the Government is
unwilling to grant long leases, and the tenure is for the
most part from year to year, the occupants are naturally
unwilling to expend their energy or capital upon it, and
the rental is very small, while the land is exhausted
without care for the future.

Owing to the elevation of this place (for it is 2900 feet
above the sea), the air the next morning w^as clear and

-° See Farley's 'Turkey,' p. no,

M 2

164 Salonica to Monastir. Chap. VII.

cold. As we descended, at an hour's distance from the
village, we reached a ridge, from which we beheld in
front of us the long plain of Monastir stretching away
to the north, with the town dimly visible at the foot
of the mountains on the western side. The outline of
this chain is flat, so that the view can be called grand
only from its extent ; and the one summit of great
elevation, which rises above the rest, lies back from the
plain, and is little seen from its opposite side. This
is Mount Peristeri, which reaches an elevation somewhat
higher than that of Mount Nidje, and overlooks the
valley behind Monastir. Its name, w^hich signifies " The
Dove," is an almost singular instance in this part of the
country of the use of a Greek word to designate one of
the natural features, the rest being almost universally
either Turkish, or, as is most commonly the case, Sla-
vonic. Descending still further, we passed the tomb of
a Mahometan saint and a Turkish cemetery, while on
our right the snow-capped ridge of Nidje once more
appeared. Shortly after this we arrived at the pretty
village of Tulbeli, which is dignified in Greek with the
name of a /ccoyu-oTroXi?, or country town, as places of this
size are called, to distinguish them from an ordinary
village {ywpiov), and a town (irokireia)?^

From thence we rode over an expanse of loose stones,
the aspect of which might almost recal the plain of the
Crau, near Aries, in the south of France, where Jupiter,
according to the legend, is said to have cast down the
boulders and pebbles with which it is covered, to provide
missiles for Hercules in his contest with the Ligurians.
When at last we reached the plain, our track lay across
it in an oblique direction towards the city. The small

^' On the scene of Brasidas' retreat from Lyncestis, sec Appendix C.

Chap. VII. Approach to Monastir. 165

streams which we passed were running northwards, for
the river Czerna, the ancient Erigon, by which the plain
is drained, after flowing from north to south throughout
the greater part of its course, bends round to the north-
east, where it reaches the lower end, and passing between
Mount Nidje and the extremity of the Babuna moun-
tains, descends towards the Vardar, which river it joins
some way below the city of Kiuprili. As we approached
Monastir, we once more joined the Route Impcrialc, on
which we met numerous passengers — some on foot, others
mounted on donkeys — as we entered the avenue which
leads up to the city. Earlier in the year, the road is
said for a time to be crowded with strings of horses and
mules, which carry the corn that is grown in this upland
region for exportation to the sea.

( i66 )



Monastir — Its Importance — Massacre of the Albanian Beys — Monasteiy
of Bukova — Plain of Monastir — Legend of the Temenidse — Turkish
Outrages — The Bulgarians — Their History — Bulgarian Church Move-
ment — Monastir to Ochrida — Lake of Presba — Lake of Ochrida —
The City — Ancient Statue and Crucifix — Legend of St. Clement —
Cyril and Methodius — Statues and Pictures.

Monastir, or, as the Christians call it, Bitolia, which
is the military centre and most important place in this
district of Turkey, is situated in an angle running in
from the western side of the plain. Its appearance from
outside is beautiful from the trees, especially the bright
glistening poplars, which are interspersed among the
houses, and the numerous minarets and domed mosques,
the latter of which features we had not seen since leaving
Cavalla : inside, too, there is a more cleanly and regular
appearance about the streets than is found in most
Turkish towns, and there is an unusual air of business,
and shops of some pretensions. Here, also, one meets
once more such unwonted sights as cavalry barracks, a
parade ground, Turkish soldiers, and foreign consuls.
In the winter there is a force of about 4000 men
stationed here, but at other times of the year they are
dispersed about the country. We could not learn that
any of them had been drawn off to join in the operations
which were then preparing against Montenegro ; indeed
they can hardly be spared, as there is no other military
force in the country nearer than Salonica on the one side

Chap. VIII. Monastir. 167

and Scodra on the other. The military importance of
Monastir is great from several points of view. In the
first place it is the meeting-point of several lines of road,
from Salonica on the ^gean, from Durazzo on the
Adriatic, and from Uskiub and Adrianople in the in-
terior. Besides this, it is the most accessible point from
which an army can penetrate into Albania, and the pas-
sage into that country which it commands, though diffi-
cult, is yet considered practicable for artillery. To this
it must be added, that from here it is possible to act
independently against Northern and Southern Albania,
and separate the races which inhabit those countries
respectively. The population is about 40,000, and is
principally composed of Turks and Wallachs, the latter
being the mercantile class, as the Bulgarians are the cul-
tivators of the soil. There are also a few Greeks.

The parade-ground, which we had seen on entering the
city, at the end of the avenue by which we approached,
was in 1830 the scene of an event of considerable import-
ance in later Turkish history — the massacre of the Alba-
nian Beys. It was an act of the most scandalous perfidy,
contrived with the utmost deliberation ; but, since the
fall of Ali Pasha, no other circumstance has tended so
much to establish the Ottoman power in these parts, as
it led to the final overthrow of the local chieftains in
Albania. The history of it is as follows. After the con-
clusion of the Greek War of Independence, the Albanian
soldiery who had been employed by the Turks in that
struggle returned to their native country, and there began
to pillage the villages indiscriminately. When at last
this state of things became unendurable, the petty chiefs
combined themselves into a sort of oligarchy for the pur-
pose of restoring order, the lead being taken amongst
them by three persons- — Seliktar Poda, who commanded

1 68 Monastir and Ochrida. Chap, VIII,

Central Albania, and had gathered round him the re-
mains of Ali Pasha's faction — Veli Bey, who held Yanina
and the rest of Epirus, and concealed his ambitious de-
signs by pretending to support the reforms introduced
by the Porte — and Arslan Bey, a noble and dashing
young officer of twenty-five years of age, who professed
to represent the national party, and was consequently
the most popular of the three. In reality, however,
another personage of greater importance was behind the
scenes in this movement, which he was prepared to
employ for purposes of his own, in the shape of Mustapha
Pasha of Scodra, the last of the hereditary Pashas of that
place, and the most formidable chieftain then remaining
in Albania. The three leaders just mentioned were at
first at variance among themselves, and by their rivalry
paralysed one another's action : when, however, they
found that the Porte was about to undertake operations
against them, and the danger became pressing, a confer-
ence was arranged between Veli and Arslan, at which,
after a protracted discussion, they gave one another the
kiss of peace, and then proceeded to proclaim to their
troops that they had made common cause with a view
to united action. Meanwhile the Grand Vizir, Reschid
Pasha, perceiving that mischief was brewing in Albania,
and well aware of the ambitious designs of Mustapha,
had assembled a force at Adrianople, with which he
marched to Monastir. On reaching that place, when
he received intelligence of the reconciliation of the two
chiefs, he conducted himself as if compelled to change his
plan of action, and after proclaiming a general amnesty,
invited all the Albanian Beys to a grand banquet at Mo-
nastir, to celebrate the re-establishment of friendly rela-
tions with the central government. The invitation was

Chap. VIII. Massacre of the Beys. 1 69

accepted, and the Beys presented themselves, to the num-
ber of four or five hundred, headed by Arslan and Veli.

But the proposed meeting was only a device to conceal
an act of the basest treachery. On their first arrival the
Vizir received them with great affability and kindness,
and encouraged them with the most specious promises.
But when, at the time appointed for the banquet,
they approached the rendezvous, which was the parade-
ground already mentioned, they were dismayed to find a
thousand regular troops drawn up on two sides of a
square, the one along their route, the other facing them.
On seeing this, Arslan Bey exclaimed to Veli, " We have
eaten dirt ;" to which the other replied, " This is the
regular way of doing honour." Immediately after, a
fatal volley poured in amongst the Albanians, followed
by a charge with the bayonet. Veli Bey instantly fell,
but Arslan and others survived, and were wheeling off to
the right, when the volley and charge of the second
Turkish line took them in flank. From this Arslan alone
escaped, and was soon at a distance from the bloody
scene. But his flight had been observed, and Khior
Ibrahim Pasha, one of the Grand Vizir's subordinates,
immediately mounted a swift horse and gave chase. At
the end of three miles he came up with him, when Arslan
turned suddenly round, and, facing his opponent, dis-
charged his pistol at him, which brought down his horse.
But Ibrahim had already placed his lance in rest, and, as
he fell, he ran Arslan Bey through and through. The
scalps of the Beys were salted, and conveyed to Constan-

The eff"ect of this disgraceful massacre was to leave
only two powers in Albania capable of making any resist-
ance. The one was Seliktar Poda in the south, who had

I/O Monastir and Ochrida. Chap. VIII.

made himself master of Yanina in the interval ; but when
a force of 16,000 men was sent against him, he was forced
to fly, and the whole of Epirus fell into the hands of the
conquerors. The other was Mustapha Pasha, a more
formidable opponent. His resistance was of a serious
character, and had he known how to profit by his oppor-
tunities, he might have taken Reschid unprepared at
Monastir, where he was accompanied by only a small
body of troops. As it was, he gave that wily general
time to enlist the Christians in his service, by holding out
to them an opportunity of taking vengeance on their
hereditary enemies, the Albanians ; and to win the sup-
port of the Mahometan chiefs in Macedonia, by showing
to them that the dismemberment of the empire would
lead to their subjugation to Russia. The decisive struggle
took place near Perlepe, where, after a hard fight, the
Albanians were defeated. Mustapha Pasha was forced to
retire to Scodra, where he was besieged in the fortress of
Rosapha, and ultimately compelled to surrender.^

By the kindness of our consul, Mr. Charles Calvert,
we were invited to pass the night at the little monastery
of Bukova, or " The Beeches," which nestles in the moun-
tain-side, at a height of several hundred feet above the
town, and in which he had taken refuge from the intense
heat of the summer. As we were riding out we met
some of the Pasha's hawks, which were being brought
home by mounted attendants from a hawking expedi-

Online LibraryHenry Fanshawe TozerResearches in the highlands of Turkey; including visits to mounts Ida, Athos, Olympus, and Pelion, to the Mirdite Albanians, and other remote tribes (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 31)