CHAPTER IX. THROUGH EUROPEAN TURKEY.
On the way from the Bazaar we call at the Pigeon Mosque, so called on account of being the resort of thousands of pigeons, that have become quite tame from being constantly fed by visitors and surrounded by human beings. A woman has charge of a store of seeds and grain, and visitors purchase a handful for ten paras and throw to the pigeons, who flock around fearlessly in the general scramble for the food. At any hour of the day Mussulman ladies may be seen here feeding the pigeons for the amusement of their children. From the Pigeon Mosque we ascend the Saraka Tower, the great watch-tower of Stamboul, from the summit of which the news of a fire in any part of the city is signalled, by suspending huge frame-work balls covered with canvas from the ends of projecting poles in the day, and lights at night. Constant watch and ward is kept over the city below by men snugly housed in quarters near the summit, who, in addition to their duties as watchmen, turn an honest cherik occasionally by supplying cups of coffee to Visitors.
No fairer site ever greeted human vision than the prospect from the Tower of Saraka. Stamboul, Galata, Pera, and Scutari, with every suburban village and resort for many a mile around, can be seen to perfection from the commanding height of Saraka Tower. The guide can here point out every building of interest in Stamboul-the broad area of roof beneath which the busy scenes of Stamboul Bazaar are enacted from day to day, the great Persian khan, the different mosques, the Sultan's palaces at Pera, the Imperial kiosks up the Bosphorus, the old Grecian aqueduct, along which the water for supplying the great reservoir of the thousand and one columns used to be conducted, the old city walls, and scores of other interesting objects too numerous to mention here. On the opposite hill, across the Golden Horn, Galata Watch-tower points skyward above the mosques and houses of Galata and Pera. The two bridges connecting Stamboul and Galata are seen thronged with busy traffic; a forest of masts and spars is ranged all along the Golden Horn; steamboats are plying hither and thither across the Bosphorus; the American cruiser Quinnebaug rides at anchor opposite the Imperial water-side palace; the blue waters of the Sea of Marmora and the Gulf of Ismidt are dotted here and there with snowy sails or lined with the smoke of steamships; all combined to make the most lovely panorama imaginable, and to which the coast-wise hills and more lofty mountains of Asia Minor in the distance form a most appropriate background.
>From this vantage-point the guide will not neglect whetting the curiosity of his charge for more sight-seeing by pointing out everything that he imagines would be interesting; he points out a hill above Scutari, whence, he says, a splendid view can be had of "all Asia Minor," and "we could walk there and back in half a day, or go quicker with horses or donkeys;" he reminds you that to-morrow is the day for the howling dervishes in Scutari, and tells you that by starting at one we can walk out to the English cemetery, and return to Scutari in time for the howling dervishes at four o'clock, and manages altogether to get his employer interested in a programme, which, if carried out, would guarantee him employment for the next week. On the way back to Galata we visit the tomb of Sulieman I, the most magnificent tomb in Stamboul. Here, before the coffins of Sulieman I., Sulieman II, and his brother Ahmed, are monster wax candles, that have stood sentry here for three hundred and fifty years; and the mosaic dome of the beautiful edifice is studded with what are popularly believed to be genuine diamonds, that twinkle down on the curiously gazing visitor like stars from a miniature heaven. The attendant tells the guide, in answer to an inquiry from me, that no one living knows whether they are genuine diamonds or not, for never, since the day it was finished, over three centuries and a half ago, has anyone been permitted to go up and examine them. The edifice was go perfectly and solidly built in the beginning, that no repairs of any kind have ever been necessary; and it looks almost like a new building to-day.
Not being able to spare the time for visiting all the objects of interest enumerated by the guide, I elect to see the howling dervishes as the most interesting among them. Accordingly we take the ferry-boat across to Scutari on Thursday afternoon in time to visit the English cemetery before the dervishes begin their peculiar services. We pass through one of the largest Mussulman cemeteries of Constantinople, a bewildering area of tombstones beneath a grove of dark cypresses, so crowded and disorderly that the oldest gravestones seem to have been pushed down, or on one side, to make room for others of a later generation, and these again for still others. In happy comparison to the disordered area of crowded tombstones in the Mohammedan graveyard is the English cemetery, where the soldiers who died at the Scutari hospital during the Crimean war were buried, and the English residents of Constantinople now bury their dead. The situation of the English cemetery is a charming spot, on a sloping bluff, washed by the waters of the Bosphorus, where the requiem of the murmuring waves is perpetually sung for the brave fellows interred there. An Englishman has charge; and after being in Turkey a month it is really quite refreshing to visit this cemetery, and note the scrupulous neatness of the grounds. The keeper must be industry personified, for he scarcely permits a dead leaf to escape his notice; and the four angels beaming down upon the grounds from the national monument erected by England, in memory of the Crimean heroes, were they real visitors from the better land, could doubtless give a good account of his stewardship.