Metropolis of the Saltan

SAINT SOPHIA

“ Sophia’s cupola, with golden gleam.”

The good object of each lion-hunting traveller in Turkey is to acquire ingress to the mosques; and as this privilege is just 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 various.

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 house with alternate patches of sunshine and shadow, which produce a nice impact; and accumulate 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 cross into the temple from dawn to sundown.

A sublime fountain, with a projecting octagonal roof, whose marble basin is screened by a protecting 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 required alternative of performing their preliminary ablutions ere they enter the mosque; whereas in its speedy neighborhood, amulet and scent retailers, typically 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 typically gifted with a quiet facetiousness of method which by no means fails to amuse a Turk, they accumulate about them numbers of idlers, whose picturesque costume and sleek 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- ft, pipe in hand, and passing the beads of bistusbee* listlessly by 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 infrequently a closely-mnfiled feminine, her darkish eyes flashing out between the folds of her snowy veil, her ft coated with boots and slippers of yellow morocco, and her kind shrouded in a heavy cloak of dark-coloured material.

 

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