The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Ii. Constantinople

Character of Constantinople

Previous - Next

Though the city is so large, it is not all well peopled, for in the middle of it there are many enclosures, where there are corn fields, and fruit gardens. The most populous part is near the sea; and the greatest traffic is from the city, by the gates which open on the sea, especially the gates leading to the city of Pera, on account of the ships which go there to unload; and because those of both cities pass from the one to the other, with their merchandise. This city of Constantinople contains many great churches and monasteries, but most of them are in ruins; though it. seems clear that, in former times, when the city was in its youth, it was the most renowned city in the world. They say that even now there are three thousand churches, large and small; and within the city there are fountains and wells of sweet water; and in a part below the church which is dedicated to the Holy Apostle, there is a bridge reaching from one valley to another, over houses and gardens, by which water used to come, for the irrigation of those gardens. In a street which leads to one of the gates of the city, opposite Pera, there is a pair of stocks fixed in the ground, for men who are to be imprisoned, or who break any of the city regulations, or who sell meat or bread with false weights. Such persons are taken to this place, and left there day and night, exposed to the weather. Between the city walls and the sea, opposite Pera, there are many houses, in which many things are sold, and warehouses. The city of Constantinople is near the sea, as you have been told, and two sides face the sea; and in front is the city of Pera. Between the two cities is the port, and Constantinople is thus like Seville, and Pera is like Triana, with the port and the ships between them: and the Greeks do not call it Constantinople as we do, but Escomboli.