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A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy online

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and fifty pounds through the rugged hilly streets. Wood, coals,
provisions, and building-materials are carried by horses and asses.
This may be one reason why every thing is so dear in Constantinople.




CHAPTER IV.


Walks and drives of the townspeople - The "Sweet Waters" -
Chalcedonia - Baluklid - The great and little Campo - Feasts in
Constantinople - Anniversary of Mahomet's death - Easter holidays of
the Greeks - Gladiators and wrestlers - Excursion to Brussa - Olive-
trees - Mosques at Brussa - Stone bridge - Wild dogs - Baths and mineral
springs - Return to Constantinople.

On Sundays and holydays the "Sweet Waters" of Europe are much
frequented. One generally crosses the Golden Horn, into which the
sweet water runs, in a kaik. There is, however, another way thither
across the mountains.

A large grass-plat, surrounded by trees, is the goal towards which
the heaving multitude pours. Here are to be seen people from all
quarters of the globe, and of all shades of colour, reclining in
perfect harmony on carpets, mats, and pillows, and solacing
themselves, pipe in mouth, with coffee and sweetmeats. Many pretty
Jewesses, mostly unveiled, are to be seen among the crowd.

On Friday, the holiday of the Turks, the scene in the Asiatic Sweet
Waters is just as animated; and here there is much more to interest
us Europeans, as the company consists chiefly of Turks, male and
female. The latter have, as usual, their faces covered: the most
beautiful feature, the flaming eye, is, however, visible.

The trip across the sea to the Asiatic Sweet Waters is incomparably
more beautiful and interesting than the journey to the European. We
travel up the Bosphorus, in the direction of the Black Sea, past the
splendid new palace of the Sultan. Though this palace is chiefly of
wood, the pillars, staircases, and the ground-floor, built of marble
of dazzling whiteness, are strikingly beautiful. The great gates,
of gilded cast-iron, may be called masterpieces; they were purchased
in England for the sum of 8000 pounds. The roof of the palace is in
the form of a terrace, and round this terrace runs a magnificent
gallery, built only of wood, but artistically carved. We also pass
the two ancient castles which command the approach to
Constantinople, and then turn to the right towards the Sweet Waters.
The situation of this place is most lovely; it lies in a beautiful
valley surrounded by green hills.

Very interesting is also an excursion to Chalcedonia, a peninsula in
the Sea of Marmora, on the Asiatic side, adjoining Scutari. We were
rowed thither in a two-oared kaik in an hour and a quarter. The
finest possible weather favoured our trip. A number of dolphins
gambolled around our boat; we saw these tame fishes darting to and
fro in all directions, and leaping into the air. It is a peculiar
circumstance with regard to these creatures, that they never swim
separately, but always either in pairs or larger companies.

The views which we enjoy during these trips are peculiarly lovely.
Scutari lies close on our left; the foreground is occupied by
mountains of moderate elevation; and above them, in the far
distance, gleams the snow-clad summit of Olympus. The uninhabited
Prince's Island and the two Dog Islands are not the most picturesque
objects to be introduced in such a landscape. To make up for the
disadvantage of their presence we have, however, a good view of the
Sea of Marmora, and can also distinguish the greater portion of the
city of Constantinople.

On Chalcedonia itself there is nothing to be seen but a lighthouse.
Beautiful grass-plats, with a few trees and a coffee-house, are the
chief points of attraction with the townspeople.

An excursion by sea to Baluklid is also to be recommended. You pass
the entire Turkish fleet, which is very considerable, and see the
largest ship in the world, the "Mahmud," of 140 guns, built during
the reign of the late Sultan Mahmud. Several three-deckers of 120
guns, some of them unrigged, and many men-of-war mounting from forty
to sixty cannons, lie in the harbour. For an hour and a half we are
riding through the Sea of Marmora, to the left of the great quay
which surrounds the walls of Constantinople. Here, for the first
time, we see the giant city in all its magnificent proportions. We
also passed the "Seven Towers," of which, however, only five remain
standing; the other two, I was told, had fallen in. If these towers
really answer no other purpose than that of prisons for the European
ambassadors during tumults or in the event of hostilities, I think
the sooner the remaining five tumble down the better; for the
European powers will certainly not brook such an insult from the
Turks, now in the day of their decline.

We disembarked immediately beyond the "Seven Towers," and walked for
half an hour through long empty streets, then out at the town-gate,
where the cypress-grove for a time conceals from our view a large
open space on which is built a pretty Greek church. I was told that
during the holidays at Easter such riotous scenes were here enacted
that broken heads were far from being phenomena of rare occurrence.
In the church there is a cold spring containing little fishes. A
legend goes, that on the high days at Easter these poor little
creatures swim about half fried and yet alive, because once upon a
time, when Constantinople was besieged, a general said that it was
no more likely that the city could be taken than that fishes could
swim about half fried. Ever since that period the wonderful miracle
of the fried fish is said to occur annually at Easter.

On our return to our kaik, we saw near the shore an enormous cuttle-
fish, more than fourteen feet in length, which had just been taken
and killed. A number of fishermen were trying with ropes and poles
to drag the monster ashore.

The walks in the immediate neighbourhood of Pera are the great and
little Campo, and somewhat farther distant the great bridge which
unites Topana with Constantinople; the latter is a most amusing
walk, during which we can view the life and bustle on both shores at
the same time. In the little Campo are two Frankish coffee-houses,
before which we sit quite in European fashion on handsome chairs and
benches, listening to pleasant music, and regaling ourselves with
ices.

FEASTS IN CONSTANTINOPLE.

During my residence in Constantinople I had the good fortune to be
present at some very entertaining festivities. The most magnificent
of these took place on the 23d of April, the anniversary of
Mahomet's death.

On the eve of this feast we enjoyed a fairy-like spectacle. The
tops of all the minarets were illuminated with hundreds of little
lamps; and as there are a great many of these slender spires, it can
be readily imagined that this sea of light must have a beautiful
effect. The Turkish ships in the harbour presented a similar
appearance. At every loop-hole a large lamp occupied the place of
the muzzle of the cannon. At nine o'clock in the evening, salvoes
were fired from the ships; and at the moment that the cannons were
fired, the lamps vanished, flashes of light and gunpowder-smoke
filled the air; a few seconds afterwards, as if by magic, the lamps
had reappeared. This salute was repeated three times.

The morning of the 23d was ushered in by the booming of the cannon.
All the Turkish ships had hoisted their flags, and garlands of
coloured paper were twined round the masts to their very tops.

At nine o'clock I proceeded in the company of several friends to
Constantinople, to see the grand progress of the Sultan to the
mosque. As with us, it is here the custom to post soldiers on
either side of the way. The procession was headed by the officers
and government officials; but after every couple of officers or
statesmen followed their servants, generally to the number of twelve
or fifteen persons, in very variegated costumes, partly Turkish,
partly European, and withal somewhat military; in fact, a perfect
motley. Then came the Emperor's state-horses, splendid creatures,
the majority of them of the true Arabian breed, decorated with
saddle-cloths richly embroidered with gold, pearls, and precious
stones, and proudly moving their plumed heads. Their spirited
appearance and beautiful paces excited the admiration of all the
learned in such matters. They were followed by a number of pages on
foot; these pages are not, however, youths, as in other countries,
but men of tried fidelity. In their midst rode the youthful
Emperor, wrapped in his cape, and wearing in his fez-cap a fine
heron's plume, buckled with the largest diamond in Europe. As the
Sultan passed by, he was greeted by the acclamations of the
military, but not of the people. The soldiers closed the
procession; but their bearing is not nearly so haughty as that of
the horses. The reason of this is simple enough - no one dares look
upon the Arabians with an evil eye, but the soldiers are entirely
subject to the caprice of their officers. I would certainly rather
be the Sultan's horse than his soldier.

The uniforms of the officers, in their profusion of gold embroidery,
resemble those of our hussars. The privates have very comfortable
jackets and trousers of blue cloth with red trimmings; some have
jackets entirely of a red colour. The artillerymen wear red
facings. Their chaussure is pitiable in the extreme: some have
boots, not unfrequently decorated with spurs; others have shoes,
trodden down at heel and terribly tattered; and some even appear in
slippers. All are without stockings, and thus naked feet peer forth
every where. The position of the men with regard to each other is
just as irregular; a little dwarf may frequently be seen posted next
to a giant, a boy of twelve or fourteen years near a grey-headed
veteran, and a negro standing next to a white man.

At this feast a great concourse of people was assembled, and every
window was crowded with muffled female heads.

We had been advised not to be present at this ceremony, as it was
stated to be of a purely religious nature, and it was feared we
should be exposed to annoyance from the fanaticism of the Mussulmen.
I am glad to say, however, that the curiosity of my party was
stronger than their apprehensions. We pushed through every where,
and I had again occasion to feel assured that grievous wrong is
frequently done the good Turks. Not only was there no appearance of
a disposition to annoy us, but we even obtained very good places
without much trouble.

On their Easter days the Greeks have a feast in the great Campo. On
all the three holidays, the hamaks (water-carriers and porters),
after the service is over, march in large numbers to the Campo with
songs and music, with noise and shouting, waving their handkerchiefs
in the air. Arrived at their destination, they divide into
different groups, and proceed to amuse themselves much after the
manner of other nations. A number of tents are erected, where a
great deal of cooking and baking is carried on. Large companies are
sitting on the ground or on the tombstones, eating and drinking in
quiet enjoyment. We see a number of swings laden with men and
children; on this side we hear the squeaking of a bagpipe, on that
the sound of a pipe and drum, uttering such dismal music that the
hearer instinctively puts a finger into each ear. To this music a
real bear's dance is going on. Six or eight fellows stand in a half
circle round the musician, and two leaders of these light-toed
clodhoppers continually wave their handkerchiefs in the air as they
stamp slowly and heavily round in a circle. The women are allowed
to appear at this feast, but may neither take part in the swinging
nor in the dancing. They therefore keep up a brave skirmishing with
the sweetmeats, coffee, and delicacies of all kinds. The more
wealthy portion of the community employ these days in riding to
Baluklid, to gaze and wonder at the miracle of the half-baked and
yet living fishes.

As the Greeks are not so good-natured as the Turks, the latter
seldom take part in their festivities. Turkish women never appear
on these occasions.

On the 8th of May I saw a truly Turkish fete in the neighbourhood of
the Achmaidon (place of arrows).

In a plain surrounded on all sides by hills, men of all nations
formed a large but closely-packed circle. Kavasses (gens d'arme)
were there to keep order among the people, and several officers sat
among the circle to keep order among the kavasses. The spectacle
began. Two wrestlers or gladiators made their appearance,
completely undressed, with the exception of trousers of strong
leather. They had rubbed themselves all over with oil, so that
their joints might be soft and supple, and also that their adversary
should not be able to obtain a firm hold when they grappled
together. They made several obeisances to the spectators, began
with minor feats of wrestling, and frequently stopped for a few
moments in order to husband their strength. Then the battle began
afresh, and became hotter and hotter, till at length one of the
combatants was hailed as victor by the shouting mob. He is declared
the conqueror who succeeds in throwing his opponent in such a manner
that he can sit down upon him as on a horse. A combat of this kind
usually lasts a quarter of an hour. The victor walks triumphantly
round the circle to collect his reward. The unfortunate vanquished
conceals himself among the spectators, scarcely daring to lift his
eyes. These games last for several hours; as one pair of gladiators
retire, they are replaced by another.

Greek, Turkish, and Armenian women may only be spectators of these
games from a distance; they therefore occupy the adjoining heights.
For the rest, the arrangements are the same as at the Greek Easter
feast. People eat, drink, and dance. No signs of beer, wine, or
liqueur are to be discovered, and consequently there is no
drunkenness.

The Turkish officers were here polite enough to surrender the best
places to us strangers. I had many opportunities of noticing the
character of the Mussulman, and found, to my great delight, that he
is much better and more honest than prejudices generally allow us to
believe. Even in matters of commerce and business it is better to
have to do with a Turk than with a votary of any other creed, not
even excepting my own.

During my stay at Constantinople (from the 5th of April until May
17th) I found the weather just as changeable as in my own country;
so much so, in fact, that the temperature frequently varied twelve
or fourteen degrees within four-and-twenty hours.

EXCURSION TO BRUSSA.

The two brothers, Baron Charles and Frederick von Buseck, and Herr
Sattler, the talented artist, resolved to make an excursion to
Brussa; and as I had expressed a similar wish, they were obliging
enough to invite me to make a fourth in their party. But when it
came to the point, I had almost become irresolute. I was asked by
some one if I was a good rider; "for if you are not," said my
questioner, "it would be far better for you not to accompany them,
as Brussa is four German miles distant from Gemlek, and the road is
bad, so that the gentlemen must ride briskly if they wish to reach
the town before sundown, starting as they would at half-past two in
the afternoon, the general hour of landing at Gemlek. In the event
of your being unable to keep up with the rest, you would put them to
great inconvenience, or they will be compelled to leave you behind
on the road."

I had never mounted a horse, and felt almost inclined to confess the
fact; but my curiosity to see Brussa, the beautiful town at the foot
of Olympus, gained the day, and I boldly declared that I had no
doubt I should be able to keep pace with my companions.

On the 13th of May we left Constantinople at half-past six in the
morning, on board a little steamer of forty-horse power. Passing
the Prince's and Dog Islands, we swept across the Sea of Marmora
towards the snow-crowned Olympus, until, after a voyage of seven
hours, we reached Gemlek.

Gemlek, distant thirty sea miles from Constantinople, is a miserable
place, but nevertheless does some trade as the harbour of Bithynia.
The agent of the Danube Navigation Company was civil enough to
procure us good horses, and a genuine, stalwart, and fierce-looking
Turkoman for a guide. This man wore in his girdle several pistols
and a dagger; a long crooked scimitar hung at his side; and instead
of shoes and slippers, large boots decked his feet, bordered at the
top by a wide stripe of white cloth, on which were depicted blue
flowers and other ornaments. His head was graced by a handsome
turban.

At half-past two o'clock the horses arrived. I swung myself boldly
upon my Rosinante, called on my good angel to defend me, and away we
started, slowly at first, over stock and stone. My joy was
boundless when I found that I could sit steadily upon my horse; but
shortly afterwards, when we broke into a trot, I began to feel
particularly uncomfortable, as I could not get on at all with the
stirrup, which was continually slipping to my heel, while sometimes
my foot slid out of it altogether, and I ran the risk of losing my
balance. Oh, what would I not have given to have asked advice of
any one! But unfortunately I could not do so without at once
betraying my ignorance of horsemanship. I therefore took care to
bring up the rear, under the pretence that my horse was shy, and
would not go well unless it saw the others before it. My real
reason was that I wished to hide my manoeuvres from the gentlemen,
for every moment I expected to fall. Frequently I clutched the
saddle with both hands, as I swayed from side to side. I looked
forward in terror to the gallop, but to my surprise found that I
could manage this pace better than the trot. My courage brought its
reward, for I reached the goal of our journey thoroughly shaken, but
without mishap. During the time that we travelled at a foot-pace, I
had found leisure to contemplate the scenery around us. For half
the entire distance we ride from one valley into another; as often
as a hill is reached, there is a limited prospect before the
traveller, who has, however, only to turn his head, and he enjoys a
beautiful view over the Sea of Marmora. After a ride of two hours
and a half we arrived at a little khan, {71a} where we rested for
half an hour. Proceeding thence a short distance, we reached the
last hills; and the great valley, at the end of which Brussa is seen
leaning against Olympus, lay stretched before our eager eyes, while
behind us we could still distinguish, far beyond hill and dale, the
distant sea skirting the horizon. Yet, beautiful as this landscape
undoubtedly is, I had seen it surpassed in Switzerland. The immense
valley which lies spread out before Brussa is uncultivated,
deserted, and unwatered; no carpet of luxuriant verdure, no rushing
river, no pretty village, gives an air of life to this magnificent
and yet monotonous region; and no giant mountains covered with
eternal snow look down upon the plain beneath. Pictures like these
I had frequently found in Switzerland, in the Tyrol, and also near
Salzburg. Here I saw, indeed, separate beauties, but no harmonious
whole. Olympus is a fine majestic mountain, forming an extended
barrier; but its height can scarcely exceed 6000 feet; {71b} and
during the present month it is totally despoiled of its surface of
glittering snow. Brussa, with its innumerable minarets, is the only
point of relief to which the eye continually recurs, because there
is nothing beyond to attract it. A little brook, crossed by a very
high stone bridge, but so shallow already in the middle of May as
hardly to cover our horses' hoofs; and towards Brussa, a miserable
village, with a few plantations of olives and mulberry-trees, - are
the only objects to be discovered throughout the whole wide expanse.
Wherever I found the olive-tree - here, near Trieste, and in Sicily, -
it was alike ugly. The stem is gnarled, and the leaves are narrow
and of a dingy green colour. The mulberry-tree, with its luxuriant
bright green foliage, forms an agreeable contrast to the olive. The
silk produced in this neighbourhood is peculiarly fine in quality,
and the stuffs from Brussa are renowned far and wide.

We reached the town in safety before sunset. It is one of the most
disagreeable circumstances that can happen to the traveller to
arrive at an Oriental town after evening has closed in. He finds
the gates locked, and may clamour for admittance in vain.

In order to gain our inn, we were obliged to ride through the
greater part of the town. I had here an opportunity of observing
that it is just as unsightly as the interior of Constantinople. The
streets are narrow, and the houses built of wood, plaster, and some
even of stone; but all wear an aspect of poverty, and at the same
time of singularity; - the gables projecting so much that they occupy
half the width of the street, and render it completely dark, while
they increase its narrowness. The inn, too, at which we put up,
looked far from inviting when viewed from the outside, so that we
had some dark misgivings respecting the quality of the accommodation
that awaited us. But in proportion as the outside had looked
unpropitious, were we agreeably surprised on entering. A neat and
roomy courtyard, with a basin of pure sparkling water in the midst,
surrounded by mulberry-trees, was the first thing we beheld. Round
this courtyard were two stories of clean but simply-furnished rooms.
The fare was good, and we were even regaled with a bottle of
excellent wine from the lower regions of Olympus.

May 14th.

Next morning we visited the town and its environs, under the
guidance and protection of a kavasse. The town itself is of great
extent, and is reported to contain above 10,000 houses, inhabited
exclusively by Turks. The population of the suburbs, which comprise
nearly 4000 houses, is a mixed one of Christians, Jews, Greeks, etc.
The town numbers three hundred and sixty mosques; but the greater
portion of them are so insignificant and in such a dilapidated
condition, that we scarcely observed them.

Strangers are here permitted to enter the mosques in company of a
kavasse. We visited some of the principal, among which the Ulla
Drchamy may decidedly be reckoned. The cupola of this mosque is
considered a masterpiece, and rests upon graceful columns. It is
open at the top, thus diffusing a chastened light and a clear
atmosphere throughout the building. Immediately beneath this cupola
stands a large marble basin, in which small fishes swim merrily
about.

The mosque of Sultan Mahomed I. and of Sultan Ildirim Bojasid must
also be noticed on account of their splendid architecture; the
latter, too, for the fine view which is thence obtained. In the
mosque of Murad I. visitors are still shewn weapons and garments
which once belonged to that sultan. I saw none of the magnificent
regal buildings mentioned by some writers. The imperial kiosk is so
simple in its appearance, that if we had not climbed the hill on
which it stands for the sake of the view, it would not have been
worth the trouble of the walk.

A stone bridge, roofed throughout its entire length, crosses the bed
of the river, which has very steep banks, but contains very little
water. A double row of small cottages, in which silk-weavers live
and ply their trade, lines this bridge, which I was surprised to see
here, as its architecture seemed rather to appertain to my own
country than to the East. During my whole journey I did not see a
second bridge of this kind, either in Syria or Egypt.

The streets are all very dull and deserted, a fact which is rather
remarkable in a town of 100,000 inhabitants. In most of the streets
more dogs than men are to be seen. Not only in Constantinople, but
almost in every Oriental town, vast numbers of these creatures run
about in a wild state.

Here, as every where, some degree of bustle is to be found in the
bazaars, particularly in those which are covered in. Beautiful and
durable silk stuffs, the most valuable of which are kept in
warehouses under lock and key, form the chief article of traffic.
In the public bazaar we found nothing exposed for sale except
provisions. Among these I remarked some small, very unpalatable
cherries. Asia Minor is the fatherland of this fruit, but I did not
find it in any degree of perfection either here or at Smyrna.

Brussa is peculiarly rich in cold springs, clear as crystal, which
burst forth from Mount Olympus. The town is intersected in all



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