One charming morning, we ascended the strait in a steamboat that calls at the landings on the eastern shore. The Bosporus, if you will have it in a phrase, is a river of lapis lazuli lined with marble palaces. As we saw it that morningits sloping gardens, terraces, trees, and vines in the tender bloom of springall the extravagance of the Oriental poets in praise of it was justified, and it was easy to believe the nature-romance with which the earliest adventurers had clothed it.
We sailed close to the village of Kandili and the promontory under which and upon which it lies, a site which exhausts the capacity of the loveliness of nature and the skill of art. From the villas on its height one commands, by a shifted glance, the Euxine and the Marmora, and whatever is most lovely in the prospect of two continents; the purity of the air is said to equal the charm of the view. Above this promontory opens the valley down which flows the river Geuksoo (sky-water), and at the north of it stands a white marble kiosk of the Sultan, the most beautiful architectural creation on the strait. Near it, shaded by great trees, is a handsome fountain; beyond the green turf in the tree-decked vale which pierces the hill were groups of holiday-makers in gay attire.
We landed at Beicos, and, in default of any conveyance, walked up through the straggling village, along the shore, to a verdant, shady meadow, sweet with clover and wild-flowers. This is in the valley of Hun-Kiar Iskelesi, a favorite residence of the sultans; here on a projecting rocky point is a reddish palace built and given to the Sultan by the Khedive. The meadow, in which we were, is behind a palace of old Mohammed Ali, and it is now used as a pasture for the Sultan’s horses, dozens of which were tethered and feeding in the lush grass and clover. The tents of their attendants were pitched on the plain, and groups of Turkish ladies were picnicking under the large sycamores. It was a charming rural scene. I made the silent acquaintance of an old man, in a white turban and flowing robes, who sat in the grass knitting and watching his one white lamb feed; probably knitting the fleece of his lamb of the year before.
We were in search of an “araba” and team to take us up the mountain; one stood in the meadow which wc could hire, but oxen were wanting, and we dispatched a Greek boy in search of the animals. As we ascended, the road, gullied by the spring torrents, at last became impassable for wheels, and we were obliged to abandon the araba and perform the last half-mile of the journey on foot. The sightly summit of the mountain is nearly six hundred feet above the water. There, in a lovely grove, we found a coffee-house and a mosque and the Giant’s Grave, which the Moslems call the grave of Joshua. It is a flower-planted enclosure, seventy feet long and seven wide, ample for any hero; the railing about it is tagged with bits of cloth which pious devotees have tied there in expectation that their diseases, perhaps their sins, will vanish with the airing of these shreds. From the minaret is a wonderful viewthe entire length of the Bosporus, with all its windings and lovely bays enlivened with white sails, ships at anchor, and darting steamers, rich in villages, ancient castles, and forts; a great portion of Asia Minor, with the snow peaks of Olympus; on the south, the Islands of the Blest and the Sea of Marmora; on the north, the Cyanean rocks and the wide sweep of the Euxine, blue as heaven and dotted with a hundred white sails, overlooked by the ruin of a Genoese castle, at the entrance of the Bosporus, built on the site of a temple of Jupiter, and the spot where the Argonauts halted before they ventured among the Symplegades; and immediately below, Terapea and the deep bay of Buyukdereh, the summer resort of the foreign residents of Constantinople, a paradise of palaces and gardens, of vales and stately plane trees, and the entrance to the interior village of Belgrade, with its sacred forest unprofaned as yet by the as.