T. G. (Thomas George) Bonney.

The Mediterranean, its storied cities and venerable ruins online

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Its Storied Cities and Venerable


T. G. Bonney, E. A. R. Ball, H. D,

Traill, Grant Allen, Arthur

Griffiths and Robert Brown



James pott & Company




Portals of the ancient world Bay of Tangier at sunrise Tarifa
The Rock of Gibraltar Wonders of its fortifications After-
jxm promenade in the Alameda Gardens Ascending the Rock
View from the highest point The Great Siege Ceuta, the
principal Spanish stronghold on the Moorish coast The rock
of many names.


"A Pearl set in Emeralds "Two distinct towns; one ancient,
one modern The Great Mosque A Mohammedan religious fes-
tivalOriental life in perfection The road to Mustapha Supe*-
rieur A true Moorish villa described Women praying to a
sacred tree Excessive rainfall.


A nearly perfect climate Continuous existence of thirty cen-
turies Granada and the world-renowned Alhambra Systems of
irrigation Vineyards the chief source of wealth Esparto grass
The famous Cape de Gatt The highest peak of the Sierra
Nevada Last view of Granada.


The flower market of the Rambla Streets of the old town The
Cathedral of Barcelona Description of the Columbus monu-
mentAll Saints' Day in Spain Mont Tibidaho Diverse cen-
ters of intellectual activity Ancient history Philanthropic and
charitable institutions.


Its Greek founders and early history Superb view from the sea
The Cannebiere The Prado and Chemin de la Corniche
Chateau d'lf and Monte-Cristo Influence of the Greeks in
Marseilles Ravages by plague and pestilence Treasures of
the Palais des Arts The Chapel of Notre Dame de la Garde
The new Marseilles and its future.

VI. NICE, 124

The Queen of the Riviera The Port of Limpia Castle Hill-
Promenade des Anglais The Carnival and Battle of Flowers
Place Massdna, the center of business Beauty of the suburbs



The road to Monte Carlo The quaintly picturesque town of
Villefranche Aspects of Nice and its environs.


In the days of the Doges Origin of the name The blue bay
of Cannes Ste. Marguerite and St. Honorat Historical asso-
ciations The Rue L'Antibes The rock of Monaco " Notre
Dame de la Roulette " From Monte Carlo to Mentone San
Remo A romantic railway.

VIII. GENOA, . . . . . . . . . 160

Early history Old fortifications The rival of Venice Changes
of twenty-five years From the parapet of the Corso The lower
town The Genoese palazzi Monument to Christopher Colum-
bus The old Dogana Memorials in the Campo Santo The
Bay of Spezzia The Isola Palmeria Harbor scenes.


Shelley's last months at Lerici Story of his death Carrara and
its marble quarries Pisa Its grand group of ecclesiastical
buildings The cloisters of the Campo Santo Napoleon's life
on Elba Origin of the Etruscans The ruins of Tarquinii
Civita Vecchia, the old port of Rome Ostia.

X. VENICE, 220

Its early days The Grand Canal and its palaces Piazza of St.
Mark A Venetian funeral The long line of islands Venetian
glass Torcello, the ancient Altinum Its two unique churches.


The bleak and barren shores of the Nile Delta Peculiar shape
of the city Strange and varied picture of Alexandrian street
life The Place Mehemet Ali Glorious panorama from the
Cairo citadel Pompey's Pillar The Battle of the Nile Dis-
covery of the famous inscribed stone at Rosetta Port Said
and the Suez Canal.

XII. MALTA, . 267

" England's Eye in the Mediterranean "Vast systems of forti-
fications Sentinels and martial music The Strada Reale of
Valletta Church of St. John St. Elmo The Military Hos-
pital, the "very glory of Malta " Citta Vecchia Saint Paul
and his voyages.




Scylla and Charybdis Messina, the chief commercial center of
Sicily The magnificent ruins of the Greek Theater at Taor-
mina Omniprescence of Mt. Etna Approach to Syracuse
The famous Latomia del Paradise Girgenti, the City of Tem-
ples Railway route to Palermo Mosaics Cathedral and
Abbey of Monreale Monte Pellegrino at the hour of sunset.

XIV. NAPLES, '. ... 325

The Bay of Naples Vesuvius Characteristic scenes of street
life The al fresco restaurants Chapel of St. Januarius Vir-
gil's Tomb Capri, the Mecca of artists and lovers of the
picturesque The Emperor Tiberius Description of the Blue
Grotto The coast-road from Castellamare to Sorrento Amain
~Sorrmto, " the village of flowers and the flower of villages "
The Temples of Paestum.


CAPRI. The Marina Grande Frontispiece


GIBRALTAR. View from the Old Mole 14

ALGIERS. Government Square and the Street, La Marine . . 28

ALGIERS. Interior of the Governor's Palace 36

MALAGA, General View from Castle 52

BARCELONA. View of Harbor ....... 70

MARSEILLES. Panorama of the Old Port 98

NICE. Promenade des Anglais 132

THE RIVIERA. San Remo . .158

GENOA. The Doria Palace Garden and Doorway . . .172
THE TUSCAN COAST. Pisa Cathedral Square and Monuments . 198
VENICE. The Piazza of St. Mark ....... 226

ALEXANDRIA. General View of the City 240

ALEXANDRIA. Scene on Canal 260

MALTA. General View 274

SICILY. View of Taormina and Mt. Etna 298

NAPLES. Panorama from Virgil's Tomb 334



Portals of the ancient world Bay of Tangier at sunrise Tarifa
The Rock of Gibraltar Wonders of its fortifications
Afternoon promenade in the Alameda Gardens Ascending
the Rock View from the highest point The Great Siege
Ceuta, the principal Spanish stronghold on the Moorish
coast The rock of many names.

THE " Pillars of Hercules ! " The portals of the
Ancient World! To how many a traveller just
beginning to tire of his week on the Atlantic,
or but slowly recovering, it may be, in his tranquil
voyage along the coasts of Portugal and Southern Spain,
from the effects of thirty unquiet hours in the Bay of
Biscay, has the nearing view of this mighty landmark
of history brought a message of new life! That dis-
tant point ahead, at which the narrowing waters of 'the
Strait that bears him disappear entirely within the clasp
of the embracing shores, is for many such a traveller the
beginning of romance. He gazes upon it from the west-
ward with some dim reflection of that mysterious awe
with which antiquity looked upon it from the East. The



progress of the ages has, in fact, transposed the center
of human interest and the human point of view. Now,
as in the Homeric era, the Pillars of Hercules form the
gateway of a world of wonder; but for us of to-day it
is within and not without those portals that that world
of wonder lies. To the eye of modern poetry the At-
lantic and Mediterranean have changed places. In the
waste of waters stretching westward from the rock of
Calpe and its sister headland, the Greek of the age of
Homer found his region of immemorial poetic legend
and venerable religious myth, and peopled it with the
gods and heroes of his traditional creed. Here, on the
bosom of the wide-winding river Oceanus, lay the Islands
of the Blest that abode of eternal beauty and calm,
where " the life of mortals is most easy," where " there
is neither snow nor winter nor much rain, but ocean is
ever sending up the shrilly breezes of Zephyrus to re-
fresh man." But for us moderns who have explored
this mighty " river Oceanus," this unknown and mysteri-
ous Atlantic to its farthest recesses, the glamor of its
mystery has passed away for ever ; and it is eastward
and not westward, through the " Pillars of Hercules,"
that we now set our sails in search of the region of
romance. It is to the basin of the Mediterranean
fringed with storied cities and venerable ruins, with the
crumbling sanctuaries of a creed which has passed away,
and the monuments of an art which is imperishable that
man turns to-day. The genius of civilization has jour-
neyed far to the westward, and has passed through
strange experiences ; it returns with new reverence and
a deeper awe to that enclave of mid-Europe which con-
tains its birthplace, and which is hallowed with the mem-
ories of its glorious youth. The grand cliff-portal


which we are approaching is the entrance, the thoughtful
traveller will always feel, to a region eternally sacred
in the history of man ; to lands which gave birth to im-
mortal models of literature and unerring canons of
philosophic truth; to shrines and temples which guard
the ashes of those " dead but sceptered sovereigns " who
" rule our spirits from their urns."

As our vessel steams onward through the rapidly
narrowing Straits, the eye falls upon a picturesque ir-
regular cluster of buildings on the Spanish shore, where-
from juts forth a rocky tongue of land surmounted by a
tower. It is the Pharos of Tarifa, and in another half /
hour we are close enough to distinguish the exact out-
lines of the ancient and famous city named of Tarif Ibn
Malek, the first Berber sheikh who landed in Spain, and
itself, it is said though some etymologists look askance
at the derivation the name-mother of a word which is
little less ' terrible to the modern trader than was this
pirate's nest itself to his predecessor of old times. The
arms of Tarifa are a castle on waves, with a key at the
window, and the device is not unaptly symbolical of
her mediaeval history, when her possessors played janitors
of the Strait, and merrily levied blackmail -the irregular
tariff of those days upon any vessel which desired to
pass. The little town itself is picturesquely situated in
the deepest embrace of the curving Strait, and the view
looking westward with the lighthouse rising sharp and
sheer against the sky, from the jutting cluster of rock
and building about its base, while dimly to the left in
the farther distance lie the mountains of the African
coast, descending there so cunningly behind the curve
that the two continents seem to touch and connect the
channel into a lake is well worth attentive study. An


interesting spot, too, is Tarifa, as well as a picturesque
interesting at least to all who are interested either in
the earlier or the later fortunes of post-Roman Europe.
It played its part, as did most other places, on this com-
mon battle-ground of Aryan and Semite, in the secular
struggle between European Christendom and the Mo-
hammedan East. And again, centuries later, it was
heard of in the briefer but more catastrophic struggle
of the Napoleonic wars. From the day when Alonzo
Perez de Guzman threw his dagger down from its battle-
ments in disdainful defiance of the threat to murder
his son, dragged bound before him beneath its walls by
traitors, it is a " far cry " to the day when Colonel Gough
of the 8;th (the " Eagle-Catchers ") beat off Marshal
Victor's besieging army of 1,800 strong, and relieved
General Campbell and his gallant little garrison; but
Tarifa has seen them both, and it is worth a visit not
only for the sake of the ride from it over the mountains
to Algeciras and Gibraltar, but for its historical asso-
ciations also, and for its old-world charm.

We have taken it, as we propose also to take Tangier,
a little out of its turn ; for the voyaging visitor to Gibral-
tar is not very likely to take either of these two places
on his way. It is more probable that he will visit them,
the one by land and the other by sea, from the Rock
itself. But Tangier in particular it is impossible to pass
without a strong desire to make its acquaintance straight-
way; so many are the attractions which draw the trav-
eller to this some-time appanage of the British Crown,
this African pied a terre, which but for the insensate
feuds and factions of the Restoration period might be
England's to-day. There are few more enchanting sights
than that of the Bay of Tangier as it appears at sun-


rise to the traveller whose steamer has dropped down
the Straits in the afternoon and evening hours of the
previous day and cast anchor after nightfall at the nearest
point off shore to which a vessel of any draught can
approach. Nowhere in the world does a nook of such
sweet tranquillity receive, and for a season, quiet, the
hurrying waters of so restless a sea. Half a mile or
so out towards the center of the Strait, a steamer from
Gibraltar has to plough its way through the surface
currents which speed continually from the Atlantic to-
wards the Pillars of Hercules and the Mediterranean
beyond. Here, under the reddening daybreak, all is calm.
The blue waters of the bay, now softly flushing at the
approach of sunrise, break lazily in mimic waves and
" tender curving lines of creamy spray " upon the shi-
ning beach. To the right lies the city, spectral in the
dawn, save where the delicate pale ivory of some of its
higher houses is warming into faintest rose ; while over
all, over sea and shore and city, is the immersing crystal
atmosphere of Africa, in which every rock, every ripple,
every housetop, stands out as sharp and clear as the
filigree work of winter on a frosted pane.

Nothing in Tangier, it must be honestly admitted, will
compare with the approach to it by its incomparable bay.
In another sense, too, there is nothing here or else-
where which exactly resembles this " approach," since
its last stage of all has to be performed alike for man
and woman unless man is prepared to wade knee-deep
in the clear blue water on the back of a sturdy Moor.
Once landed, he will find that the picturesqueness of
Tangier, like that of most Eastern cities, diminishes
rather than increases on a nearer view. A walk through
its main street yields nothing particularly worthy of


note, unless it be the minaret of the Djama-el-Kebir,
the principal mosque of the city. The point to which
every visitor to Tangier directs his steps, or has them
directed for him, is the Bab-el-Sok, the gate of the
market place, where the scene to be witnessed at early
morning presents an unequaled picture of Oriental life.
Crouching camels with their loads of dates, chaffering
traders, chattering women, sly and servile looking Jews
from the city, fierce-eyed, heavily armed children of the
desert, rough-coated horses, and the lank-sided mules,
withered crones squatting in groups by the wayside,
tripping damsels ogling over the yashmak as they pass,
and the whole enveloped in a blinding, bewildering, chok-
ing cloud of such dust as only Africa, " arida nutrix,"
can produce such dust as would make the pulverulent
particles of the dryest of turnpikes in the hottest of sum-
mers, and under the most parching of east winds, appear
by comparison moist and cool, and no more than pleas-
ingly titillatory of the mouth and nostrils let the reader
picture to himself such a scene with such accessories, and
he will know what spectacle awaits him at early morn-
ing at the Bab-el-Sok of Tangier.

But we must resume our journey eastward towards
the famous " Rock." There at last it is ! There " dawns
Gibraltar grand and gray," though Mr. Browning strains
poetic license very hard in making it visible even " in
the dimmest north-east distance," to a poet who was at
that moment observing how " sunset ran one glorious
blood-red recking into Cadiz Bay." We, at any rate,
are far enough away from Cadiz before it dawns upon
us in all its Titanic majesty of outline; grand, of course,
with the grandeur of Nature, and yet with a certain
strange air of human menace as of some piece of At-


lantean ordnance planted and pointed by the hand of
man. This " armamental " appearance of the Rock a
look visible, or at any rate imaginable in it, long before
we have approached it closely enough to discern its actual
fortifications, still less its artillery is much enhanced
by the dead flatness of the land from which its western
wall arises sheer, and with which by consequence it
seems to have no closer physical connection than has a
gun-carriage with the parade ground on which it stands.
As we draw nearer this effect increases in intensity. The
surrounding country seems to sink and recede around it,
and the Rock appears to tower ever higher and higher,
and to survey the Strait and the two continents, divided
by it with a more and more formidable frown. As we
approach the port, however, this impression gives place
to another, and the Rock, losing somewhat of its " natural-
fortress " air, begins to assume that resemblance to a
couchant lion which has been so often noticed in it. Yet
alas ! for the so-called famous " leonine aspect " of the
famous height, or alas ! at least for the capricious work-
ings of the human imagination! For while to the com-
piler of one well-reputed guidebook, the outlines of
Gibraltar seem " like those of a lion asleep, and whose
head, somewhat truncated, is turned towards Africa as
if with a dreamy and steadfast deep attention ; " to an-
other and later observer the lion appears to have " his
kingly head turned towards Spain, as if in defiance of
his former master, every feature having the character
of leonine majesty and power ! " The truth is, of course,
that the Rock assumes entirely different aspects, accord-
ing as it is looked at from different points of view. There
is certainly a point from which Gibraltar may be made,
by the exercise of a little of Polonius's imagination, to


resemble some couchant animal with its head turned
towards Africa though " a head somewhat truncated,"
is as odd a phrase as a " body somewhat decapitated "
and contemplating that continent with what we may
fancy, if we choose, to be " dreamy and steadfast atten-
tion." But the resemblance is, at best, but a slender one,
and a far-fetched. The really and strikingly leonine
aspect of Gibraltar is undoubtedly that which it presents
to the observer as he is steaming towards the Rock from
the west, but has not yet come into full view of the
slope on which the town is situated. No one can possibly
mistake the lion then. His head is distinctly turned to-
wards Spain, and what is more, he has .1 foot stretched
out towards the mainland, as though in token of his
mighty grasp upon the soil. Viewed, however, from the
neutral ground, this Protean cliff takes on a new shape
altogether, and no one would suppose that the lines
cf that sheer precipice, towering up into a jagged pin-
nacle, could appear from any quarter to melt into the
blunt and massive curves which mark the head and
shoulders of the King of Beasts.

At last, however, we are in the harbor, and are about
to land. To land ! How little does that phrase convey
to the inexperienced in sea travel, or to those whose
voyages have begun and ended in stepping from a land-
ing-stage on to a gangway, and from a gangway on to
a deck, and vice-versa! And how much does it mean
for him -to whom it comes fraught with recollections of
steep descents, of heaving seas, of tossing cock-boats,
perhaps of dripping garments, certainly of swindling
boatmen ! There are disembarkations in which you come
in for them all; but not at Gibraltar, at least under
normal circumstances. The waters of the port are placid,


and from most of the many fine vessels that touch there
you descend by a ladder, of as agreeable an inclination
as an ordinary flight of stairs. All you have to fear is
the insidious bilingual boatman, who, unless you strictly
covenant with him before entering his boat, will have
you at his mercy. It is true that he has a tariff, and
that you might imagine that the offense of exceeding it
would be punished in a place like Gibraltar by imme-
diate court-martial and execution ; but the traveller should
not rely upon this. There is a deplorable relaxation of
the bonds of discipline all over the world. Moreover,
it is wise to agree with the boatmen for a certain fixed
sum, as a salutary check upon undue liberality. Most
steamers anchor at a considerable distance from the
shore, and on a hot day one might be tempted by false
sentiment to give the boatman an excessive fee.

Your hosts at Gibraltar " spoiling " as they always
are for the sight of new civilian faces show themselves
determined from the first to make you at home. Private
Thomas Atkins on sentry duty grins broad welcome to
you from the Mole. The official to whom you have to
give account of yourself and your belongings greets
you with a pleasant smile, and, while your French or
Spanish fellow-traveller is strictly interrogated as to
his identity, profession, purpose of visit, &c., your Eng-
lish party is passed easily and promptly in, as men "at
home " upon the soil which they are treading. Fortunate
is it, if a little bewildering, for the visitor to arrive at
midday, for before he has made his way from the land-
ing-place to his hotel he will have seen a sight which has
few if any parallels in the world. Gibraltar has its nar-
row, quiet, sleepy alleys as have all Southern towns ; and
any one who confined himself to strolling through and


along these, and avoiding the main thoroughfare, might
never discover the strangely cosmopolitan character of
the place. He must walk up Waterport Street at midday
I/in order to see what Gibraltar really is a conflux of
nations, a mart of races, an Exchange for all the multi-
tudinous varieties of the human product. Europe, Asia,
and Africa meet and jostle in this singular highway.
Tall, stately, slow-pacing Moors from the north-west
coast ; white-turbaned Turks from the eastern gate of the
Mediterranean ; thick-lipped, and woolly-headed negroids
from the African interior; quick-eyed, gesticulating Le-
vantine Greeks ; gabardined Jews, and black-wimpled
Jewesses; Spanish smugglers, and Spanish sailors;
" rock-scorpions," and red-coated English soldiers all
these compose, without completing, the motley moving
crowd that throngs the main street of Gibraltar in the
forenoon, and gathers densest of all in the market near
Commercial Square.

It is hardly then as a fortress, but rather as a great
entrepot of traffic, that Gibraltar first presents itself to
the newly-landed visitor. He is now too close beneath
its frowning batteries and dominating walls of rock to
feel their strength and menace so impressive as at a
distance; and the flowing tide of many-colored life
around him overpowers the senses and the imagination
alike. He has to seek the outskirts of the town on either
side in order to get the great Rock again, either physically
or morally, into proper focus. And even before he sets
out to try its height and steepness by the ancient, if un-
scientific, process of climbing it nay, before he even
proceeds to explore under proper guidance its mighty
elements of military strength he will discover perhaps
that sternness is not its only feature. Let him stroll


round in the direction of the race-course to the north of
the Rock, and across the parade-ground, which lies be-
tween the town and the larger area on which the reviews
and field-day evolutions take place, and he will not com-
plain of Gibraltar as wanting in the picturesque. The
bold cliff, beneath which stands a Spanish cafe, descends
in broken and irregular, but striking, lines to the plain,
and it is fringed luxuriantly from stair to stair with the
vegetation of the South. Marching and counter-march-
ing under the shadow of this lofty wall, the soldiers show
from a little distance like the tin toys of the nursery,
and one knows not whether to think most of the physical
insignificance of man beside the brute bulk of Nature,
or of the moral or immoral power which has enabled
him to press into his service even the vast Rock which
stands there beetling and lowering over him, and to turn
the blind giant into a sort of Titanic man-at-arms.

Such reflections as these, however, would probably
whet a visitor's desire to explore the fortifications with-
out delay; and the time for that is not yet. The town
and its buildings have first to be inspected ; the life of
the place, both in its military and such as there is of it
its civil aspect, must be studied; though this, truth to
tell, will not engage even the minutest observer very long.
Gibraltar is not famous for its shops, or remarkable, in-
deed, as a place to buy anything, except tobacco, which,
as the Spanish Exchequer knows to its cost (and the
Spanish Customs' officials on the frontier too, it is to be
feared, their advantage), is both cheap and good. Busi-

Online LibraryT. G. (Thomas George) BonneyThe Mediterranean, its storied cities and venerable ruins → online text (page 1 of 27)