Metropolis of the Saltan

SAINT SOPHIA

“ Sophia’s cupola, with golden gleam.”

The nice object of each lion-hunting traveller in Turkey is to acquire ingress to the mosques; and as this privilege is barely accorded to nice personages, and to every European Ambassador as soon as throughout his residence in Constantinople, many are essentially fated to disappointment. No golden key will unlock the mysterious gates, nor elevate apart the veil of the temple; and it’s with a disgust and a reluctance which they scarcely care to hide, that the officiating clergymen condescend to do the honours of the shrine, even when the Imperial firman leaves them no different.

The courtroom of St. Sophia, like that of each different mosque within the metropolis, is paved with marble, and shaded by magnificent plane-trees, whose far-spreading branches and luxuriant foliage chequer the huge area with alternate patches of sunshine and shadow, which produce a wonderful impact; and acquire within the neighborhood of the holy edifice teams of quiet-looking Moslems, who unfold their carpets, and seat themselves to smoke their chibouques, and watch the pious who go into the temple from dawn to sundown.

A sublime fountain, with a projecting octagonal roof, whose marble basin is screened by a masking of iron net-work from the air pollution of the birds which swarm upon the roof aud amid the intricacies of the constructing, affords to the Devoted the mandatory alternative of performing their preliminary ablutions ere they enter the mosque; whereas in its speedy neighborhood, amulet and scent retailers, usually liadjis or pilgrims, with their inexperienced turbans and flowing beards, unfold their mats, and expose on the market all descriptions of chaplets, perfumes, depends from Mecca, charms in opposition to the Evil Eye, amber and ivory mouth-pieces for the chibouque, and dyes and toys for the harem.

Facetiousness of method

As these pilgrim-merchants are usually gifted with a quiet facetiousness of method which by no means fails to amuse a Turk, they acquire about them numbers of idlers, whose picturesque costume and swish attitudes kind at each second research for the painter: the tall Effendi, along with his turban of cachemire and his furred pelisse, stands beside the rcd-capped and bine-coated soldier; whereas, squatted at then- toes, pipe in hand, and passing the beads of bistusbee* listlessly via his fingers as he intently follows the discourse which is occurring round him, could also be seen the Emir in his inexperienced gown, pleased with his descent from the Prophet; and close to him the Dervish, along with his conical hat of gray felt; the Canton, or saint, all filth and holiness; and sometimes a closely-mnfiled feminine, her darkish eyes flashing out between the folds of her snowy veil, her toes coated with boots and slippers of yellow morocco, and her kind shrouded in a heavy cloak of dark-coloured material.

 

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