FOE a person wishing to become acquainted with a great city, ready to admire beautiful scenery, and furnished with adequate information, nothing of the kind can be more interesting and memorable than to make the circuit of the old fortifications of Constantinople. It is a tour of thirteen miles, in the course of which, the city, set in the frame of its splendid natural surroundings, is seen from many different points of view, while at the same time the historical student travels through eleven long centuries, crowded with events not only of local interest but of world-wide importance.
Along the Walls beside the Sea of Marmora
The aspect which the city presents towards the Sea of Marmora and the Asiatic coast is by many persons considered to be the most beautiful view of Constantinople. It is certainly a very attractive view. Seated on ground rising with long and steep ascent to the ridge of the promontory, the city lies spread before you, from the Seraglio Point to the Seven Towers, over an area five miles in length. As from every other point so here also, Constantinople shows as much as possible of itself at a time. It always appears in large dimensions, lofty, spacious, far-reaching; never descending from its throne, never laying aside its majesty, but constantly maintaining an imperial mien. Along the sky-line is an array of domes and minarets that, in brilliant sunshine, gleam as though made of whitest alabaster. While at the feet of the city lies a sea of sapphire, lovely as a lake; not so broad as to place the city into dim distance, yet wide enough to give the great metropolis sufficient foreground to set off its size and dignity, to obliterate petty details, to render prominent its salient features, to soften any ruggedness, to silence its din, and make the quiet grey tones of its dwellings blend harmoniously with the overhanging heavens and with the surrounding waters. It is, if the expression is allowable, the most poetical view of the Queen of Cities. Sometimes, an early watcher on the Asiatic shore beholds a vision of extraordinary beauty. The silhouette of the slumbering capital is seen against a darker mass of clouds that gathered in the west during the hours of the night.
A delicate pink light gleams on a minaret
Suddenly, in the hush of dawn, a delicate pink light gleams on a minaret here or a dome yonder. It tints minaret after minaret dome after dome, house after house. It spreads downwards and athwart transfiguring everything its rosy fingers touch, until the city, still set against a dark background, is radiant with indescribable grace. Very beautiful also is the scene towards sunset when the slopes descending to the Marmora are in shade, and the glowing vault of heaven is a canopy of glory; when the windows in the dome of S. Sophia, as the last beams of day shine through them, sparkle like jewels in a coronet and the sea beneath seems woven of crimson, gold, and purple. Nor can one fail to recall the soft tranquil beauty of the scene when the Sea of Marmora glitters in the moonlight and the golden waters kiss the shadows of the broken towers and battlements that watched and guarded the city in the days of old.