The Garden Guide

Book: Journey and Embassy to Samarkand
Chapter: Iii The Voyage from Constantinople To Trebizond.

Departure from Galatea

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On Thursday, the 20th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1404, the galliot was ready, and the ambassadors started in the afternoon, at the hour of vespers; the ambassador, whom Timur Beg had sent to our lord the king, accompanying them. On that day they did not go beyond the columns, about a mile from Pera, as they had to take in water there. On Friday they started again, and entered the great sea, with a fair wind, at the hour of mass. At vespers they reached the castle of Sequel, and remained there until midnight, when they again made sail. At vespers they were off Finogia, where the other galliot was lost, but, as they had no wish to stop there, they went on, and at night they were off a river in Turkey, and it fell calm, so they remained outside the port. On the following Sunday, at vespers, they were in a port, which is near a Turkish town called Pontoraquia, belonging to Mizal Mathalabi, the eldest son of the Turk. On Monday they still remained, on account of the contrary winds. The town of Pontoraquia is built on some rocks near the sea, and on the highest there is a castle, which is very strong. The town is thinly populated, the people being all Greeks, except a few Turks; and it used to belong to the empire of Constantinople. They say that, about thirty years ago (more or less), the emperor of Constantinople sold it to the Turk, who was father of Mizal Mathalabi, for so many thousand ducats. This town was very famous for its good harbour, and it takes its name from the emperor who built it, whose name was Ponto, and from the land, which they call Raquia {Heracleia Pontica ?}. In the evening, on Tuesday, the 25th of March, they again started, and were off a castle of the land of Turkey, near the sea, called Rio. It is uninhabited, and at the foot of it there is a harbour. They could not land, because there were large bodies of Turks there, who had come to the coast, where they were seen from the galliot. At midnight the galliot went on, and at dawn she was off the mouth of a river called Parten {Bartan, the ancient Parthenius}. They entered it, to procure water, and at the entrance there were some very high rocks, on the top of one of which there was a tower, built to guard the entrance, that galliots might not be able to anchor. Presently they departed from this place, and at noon they were off a town called Samastro {Amastris, the modern Amasera ?}. This town of Samastro belongs to the Genoese, and is near the sea, in the land of Turkey, on a very high hill. Opposite this hill, but more inland, there is another on which the town is built, and both are surrounded by a wall; and from one hill to the other there is a great arch, like a bridge, by which people pass, and it has two gates, one at each end. The town is small, and the houses are small, but outside the walls there are ruins of great edifices, churches, palaces, and houses; and it seemed that in former days the best part of the town was outside the walls.