A Visit to the Holy Land
by Ida Pfeiffer
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Towards two o'clock in the afternoon we arrived safely at Jerusalem, and were greeted with a hearty welcome by our kind hosts.

A few days after my return from the foregoing excursion, I left Jerusalem for ever. A calm and peaceful feeling of happiness filled my breast; and ever shall I be thankful to the Almighty that He has vouchsafed me to behold these realms. Is this happiness dearly purchased by the dangers, fatigues, and privations attendant upon it? Surely not. And what, indeed, are all the ills that chequer our existence here below to the woes endured by the blessed Founder of our religion! The remembrance of these holy places, and of Him who lived and suffered here, shall surely strengthen and console me wherever I may be and whatever I may be called upon to endure.


My gentleman-protectors wished to journey from Jerusalem to Beyrout by land, and intended taking a circuitous route, by way of Nazareth, Galilee, Canaan, etc., in order to visit as many of these places as possible, which are fraught with such interest to us Christians. They were once more kind enough to admit me into their party, and the 11th of June was fixed for our departure.

June 11th.

Quitting Jerusalem at three o'clock in the afternoon, we emerged from the Damascus Gate, and entered a large elevated plateau. Though this region is essentially a stony one, I saw several stubble-fields, and even a few scanty blades of grass.

The view is very extended; at a distance of four miles the walls of Jerusalem were still in view, till at length the road curved round a hill, and the Holy City was for ever hidden from our sight.

On the left of the road, an old church, said to have been erected in the days of Samuel, stands upon a hill.

At six in the evening we reached the little village of Bir, and fixed our halting-place for the night in a neighbouring stubble- field. During my first journey by land (I mean my ride from Joppa to Jerusalem), I had already had a slight foretaste of what is to be endured by the traveller in these regions. Whoever is not very hardy and courageous, and insensible to hunger, thirst, heat, and cold; whoever cannot sleep on the hard ground, or even on stones, passing the cold nights under the open sky, should not pursue his journey farther than from Joppa to Jerusalem: for, as we proceed, the fatigues become greater and less endurable, and the roads are more formidable to encounter; besides this, the food is so bad that we only eat from fear of starvation; and the only water we can get to drink is lukewarm, and offensive from the leathern jars in which it is kept.

We usually rode for six or seven hours at a time without alighting even for a moment, though the thermometer frequently stood at from 30 to 34 degrees Reaumur. Afterwards we rested for an hour at the most; and this halt was often made in the open plain, where not a tree was in sight. Refreshment was out of the question, either for the riders or the poor beasts, and frequently we had not even water to quench our burning thirst. The horses were compelled to labour unceasingly from sunrise until evening, without even receiving a feed during the day's journey. The Arabian horse is the only one capable of enduring so much hardship. In the evening these poor creatures are relieved of their burdens, but very seldom of the saddle; for the Arabs assert that it is less dangerous for the horse to bear the saddle day and night, than that it should be exposed when heated by the day's toil to the cold night-air. Bridles, saddles, and stirrups were all in such bad condition that we were in continual danger of falling to the ground, saddle and all. In fact, this misfortune happened to many of our party, but luckily it was never attended with serious results.

June 12th.

The night was very chilly; although we slept in a tent, our thick cloaks scarcely sufficed to shield us from the night-air. In the morning the fog was so dense that we could not see thirty paces before us. Towards eight o'clock it rolled away, and a few hours later the heat of the sun began to distress us greatly. It is scarcely possible to guard too carefully against the effects of the heat; the head should in particular be kept always covered, as carelessness in this respect may bring on coup de soleil. I always wore two pocket handkerchiefs round my head, under my straw hat, and continually used a parasol.

From Bir to Jabrud, where we rested for a few hours, we travelled for six hours through a monotonous and sterile country. We had still a good four hours' ride before us to Nablus, our resting-place for the night.

The roads here are bad beyond conception, so that at first the stranger despairs of passing them either on foot or on horseback. Frequently the way leads up hill and down dale, over great masses of rock; and I was truly surprised at the strength and agility of our poor horses, which displayed extraordinary sagacity in picking out the little ledges on which they could place their feet safely in climbing from rock to rock. Sometimes we crossed smooth slabs of stone, where the horses were in imminent danger of slipping; at others, the road led us past frightful chasms, the sight of which was sufficient to make me dizzy. I had read many accounts of these roads, and was prepared to find them bad enough; but my expectations were far surpassed by the reality. All that the traveller can do is to trust in Providence, and abandon himself to fate and to the sagacity of his horse.

An hour and a half before we reached the goal of this day's journey, we passed the grave of the patriarch Jacob. Had our attention not been particularly drawn to this monument, we should have ridden by without noticing it, for a few scattered blocks of stone are all that remain. A little farther on we enter the Samaritan territory, and here is "Jacob's well," where our Saviour held converse with the woman of Samaria. The masonry of the well has altogether vanished, but the spring still gushes forth from a rock.

Nablus, the ancient Sichem, the chief town of Samaria, contains four thousand inhabitants, and is reputed to be one of the most ancient towns in Palestine. It is surrounded by a strong wall, and consists of a long and very dirty street. We rode through the town from one end to the other, and past the poor-looking bazaar, where nothing struck me but the sight of some fresh figs, which were at this early season already exposed for sale. Of course we bought the fruit at once; but it had a very bad flavour.

A number of soldiers are seen in all the towns. They are Arnauts, a wild, savage race of men, who appear to be regarded with more dread by the inhabitants than the wandering tribes whose incursions they are intended to repress.

We pitched our tents on a little hill immediately outside the town. Few things are more disagreeable to the traveller than being compelled to bivouac near a town or village in the East. All the inhabitants, both young and old, flock round in order to examine the European caravan, which is a most unusual sight for them, as closely as possible. They frequently even crowd into the tents, and it becomes necessary to expel the intruders almost by main force. Not only are strangers excessively annoyed at being thus made a gazing- stock, but they also run a risk of being plundered.

Our cook had the good fortune to obtain a kid only three or four days old, which was immediately killed and at once boiled with rice. We made a most sumptuous meal, for it was seldom we could get such good fare.

June 13th.

The morning sun found us already on horseback; we rode through the whole of the beautiful valley at the entrance of which Nablus lies. The situation of this town is very charming. The valley is not broad, and does not exceed a mile and a half in length; it is completely surrounded with low hills. The mountain on the right is called Ebal, and that on the left Grissim. The latter is celebrated as being the meeting-place of the twelve tribes of Israel under Joshua; they there consulted upon the means of conquering the land of Canaan.

The whole valley is sufficiently fertile; even the hills are in some instances covered to their summits with olive, fig, lemon, and orange trees. Some little brooks, clear as crystal, bubble through the beautiful plain. We were frequently compelled to ride through the water; but all the streams are at this season of the year so shallow, that our horses' hoofs were scarcely covered.

After gaining the summit of the neighbouring hill, we turned round with regret to look our last on this valley; seldom has it been my lot to behold a more charming picture of blooming vegetation.

Two hours more brought us to Sebasta, the ancient Samaria, which also lies on a lovely hill, though for beauty of situation it is not to be compared with Nablus. Sebasta is a wretched village. The ruins of the convent built on the place where St. John the Baptist was beheaded were here pointed out to us; but even of the ruins there are few traces left.

Two hours later we reached Djenin, and had now entered the confines of Galilee. Though this province, perhaps, no longer smiles with the rich produce it displayed in the days of old, it still affords a strong contrast to Judaea. Here we again find hedges of the Indian fig-tree, besides palms and large expanses of field; but for flowers and meadows we still search in vain.

The costume of the Samaritan and Galilean women appears as monotonous as it is poor and dirty. They wear only a long dark-blue gown, and the only difference to be observed in their dress is that some muffle their faces and others do not. It would be no loss if all wore veils; for so few pretty women and girls are to be discovered, that they might be searched for, like the honest man of Diogenes, with a lantern. The women have all an ugly brown complexion, their hair is matted, and their busts lack the rounded fullness of the Turkish women. They have a custom of ornamenting both sides of the head, from the crown to the chin, with a row of silver coins; and those women who do not muffle their faces usually wear as head-dress a handkerchief of blue linen.

Djenin is a dirty little town, which we only entered in consequence of having been told that we should behold the place where Queen Jezebel fell from the window and was devoured by dogs. Both window and palace have almost vanished; but dogs, who look even now as though they could relish such royal prey, are seen prowling about the streets. Not only in Constantinople, but in every city of Syria we found these wild dogs; they were, however, nowhere so numerous as in the imperial city.

We halted for an hour or two outside the town, beside a coffee- house, and threw ourselves on the ground beneath the open sky. A kind of hearth made of masonry, on which hot water was continually in readiness, stood close by, and near it some mounds of earth had been thrown up to serve as divans. A ragged boy was busy pounding coffee, while his father, the proprietor of the concern, concocted the cheering beverage, and handed it round to the guests. Straw- mats were spread for our accommodation on the earthen divans, and without being questioned we were immediately served with coffee and argile. In the background stood a large and lofty stable of brickwork, which might have belonged to a great European inn.

After recruiting ourselves here a little, we once more set forth to finish our day's journey. Immediately after leaving the town, a remarkably fine view opens before us over the great elevated plain Esdralon, to the magnificent range of mountains enclosing this immense plateau. In the far distance they shewed us Mount Carmel, and, somewhat nearer, Mount Tabor. Here, too, the mountains are mostly barren, without, however, being entirely composed of naked masses of rock. Mount Tabor, standing entirely alone and richly clothed with vegetation, has a very fine appearance.

For nearly two hours we rode across the plain of Esdralon, and had thus ample leisure to meditate upon the great events that have occurred here. It is difficult to imagine a grander battlefield, and we can readily believe that in such a plain whole nations may have struggled for victory. From the time of Nabucodonosor to the period of the Crusades, and from the days of the Crusades to those of Napoleon, armies of men from all nations have assembled here to fight for their real or imaginary rights, or for the glory of conquest.

The great and continuous heat had cracked and burst the ground on this plain to such a degree, that we were in continual apprehension lest our horses should catch their feet in one or other of the fissures, and strain or even break them. The soil of the plain seems very good, and is free from stones; it appears, however, generally to lie fallow, being thickly covered with weeds and wild artichokes. The villages are seen in the far distance near the mountains. This plain forms part of Canaan.

We pitched our camp for the night beside a little cistern, near the wretched village of Lagun; and thus slept, for the third night consecutively, on the hard earth.

June 14th.

To-day we rode for an hour across the plain of Esdralon, and once more suffered dreadfully from the stings of the minute gnats which had annoyed us so much on our journey from Joppa to Ramla. These plagues did not leave us until we had partly ascended the mountains skirting the plain, from the summit of which we could see Nazareth, prettily built on a hill at the entrance of a fruitful valley. In the background rises the beautiful Mount Tabor.

From the time we first see Nazareth until we reach the town is a ride of an hour and a half; thus the journey from Lagun to Nazareth occupies four hours and a half, and the entire distance from Jerusalem twenty-six or twenty-seven hours.


Arrival at Nazareth—Franciscan convent—Tabarith—Mount Tabor—Lake of Gennesareth—Baths—Mount Carmel—Grotto of the prophet Elijah— Acre—The pacha's harem—Oriental women—Their listlessness and ignorance—Sur or Tyre.

It was only nine o'clock when we reached Nazareth, and repaired to the house for strangers in the Franciscan convent, where the priests welcomed us very kindly. As soon as we had made a short survey of our rooms (which resulted in our finding them very like those at Jerusalem, both as regards appearance and arrangement), we set forth once more to visit all the remarkable places, and above all the church which contains the Grotto of Annunciation. This church, to which we were accompanied by a clergyman, was built by St. Helena, and is of no great size. In the background a staircase leads down into the grotto, where it is asserted that the Virgin Mary received the Lord's message from the angel. Three little pillars of granite are still to be seen in this grotto. The lower part of one of these pillars was broken away by the Turks, so that it is only fastened from above. On the strength of this circumstance many have averred that the pillar hangs suspended in air! Had these men but looked beyond their noses, had they only cast their eyes upwards, they could not have had the face to preach a miracle where it is so palpable that none exists. A picture on the wall, not badly executed, represents the Annunciation. The house of the Virgin is not shewn here, because, according to the legend, an angel carried it away to Loretto in Italy. A few steps lead to another grotto, affirmed to be the residence of a neighbour of the Virgin, during whose absence she presided over the house and attended to the duties of the absent Mary.

Another grotto in the town is shewn as "the workshop of Joseph;" it has been left in its primitive state, except that a plain wooden altar has been added. Not far off we find the synagogue where our Lord taught the people, thereby exasperating the Pharisees to such a degree, that they wished to cast Him down from a rock outside the city. In conclusion we were shewn an immense block of stone on which the Saviour is said to have eaten the Passover with His disciples(!).

In the afternoon we went to see "Mary's Well," on the road to Tabarith, at a short distance from Nazareth. This well is fenced round with masonry, and affords pure clear water. Hither, it is said, the Virgin came every day to draw water, and here the women and girls of Nazareth may still be daily seen walking to and fro with pitchers on their shoulders. Those whom we saw were all poorly clad, and looked dirty. Many wore no covering on their head, and, what was far worse, their hair hung down in a most untidy manner. Their bright eyes were the only handsome feature these people possessed. The custom of wearing silver coins round the head also prevailed here.

To-day was a day of misfortunes for me; in the morning, when we departed from Lagun, I had already felt unwell. On the road I was seized with violent headache, nausea, and feverish shiverings, so that I hardly thought I should be able to reach Nazareth. The worst of all this was, that I felt obliged to hide my illness, as I had done on our journey to Jerusalem, for fear I should be left behind. The wish to view all the holy places in Nazareth was also so powerful within me, that I made a great effort, and accompanied the rest of my party for the whole day, though I was obliged every moment to retire into the background that my condition might not be observed. But when we went to table, the smell of the viands produced such an effect upon me, that I hastily held my handkerchief before my face as though my nose were bleeding, and hurried out. Thanks to my sunburnt skin, through which no paleness could penetrate, no one noticed that I was ill. The whole day long I could eat nothing; but towards evening I recovered a little. My appetite now also returned, but unfortunately nothing was to be had but some bad mutton-broth and an omelette made with rancid oil. It is bad enough to be obliged to subsist on such fare when we are in health, but the hardship increases tenfold when we are ill. However, I sent for some bread and wine, and strengthened myself therewith as best I might.

June 15th.

Thanks be to Heaven, I was to-day once more pretty well. In the morning I could already mount my horse and take part in the excursion we desired to make to


Passing Mary's Well and a mountain crowned by some ruins, the remains of ancient Canaan, we ride for about three miles towards the foot of Mount Tabor, the highest summit of which we do not reach for more than an hour. There were no signs of a beaten road, and we were obliged to ride over all obstacles; a course of proceeding which so tired our horses, that in half an hour's time they were quite knocked up, so that we had to proceed on foot. After much toil and hardship, with a great deal of climbing and much suffering from the heat, we gained the summit, and were repaid for the toil of the ascent, not only by the reflection that we stood on classic ground, but also by the beautiful view which lay spread before our eyes. This prospect is indeed magnificent. We overlook the entire plain of Saphed, as far as the shores of the Galilean Sea. Mount Tabor is also known by the name of the "Mountain of Bliss"—here it was that our Lord preached His exquisite "Sermon on the Mount." Of all the hills I have seen in Syria, Mount Tabor is the only one covered to the summit with oaks and carob-trees. The valleys too are filled with the richest earth, instead of barren sand; but in spite of all this the population is thin, and the few villages are wretched and puny. The poor inhabitants of Syria are woefully ground down; the taxes are too high in proportion to the productions of the soil, so that the peasants cannot possibly grow more produce than they require for their own consumption. Thus, for instance, orchards are not taxed in the aggregate, but according to each separate tree. For every olive-tree the owner must pay a piastre, or a piastre and a half; and the same sum for an orange or lemon tree. And heavily taxed as he is, the poor peasant is never safe in saying, "Such and such a thing belongs to me." The pacha may shift him to another piece of land, or drive him away altogether, if he thinks it advisable to do so; for a pacha's power in his province is as great as that of the Sultan himself in Constantinople.

Porcupines are to be met with on Mount Tabor; we found several of their fine horny quills.

From the farther side of the mountain we descended into the beautiful and spacious valley of Saphed, the scene of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, and rode on for some hours until we reached Tabarith.

A very striking scene opens before the eyes of the traveller on the last mountain before Tabarith. A lovely landscape lies suddenly unrolled before him. The valley sinks deeply down to the Galilean Sea, round the shores of which a glorious chain of mountains rises in varied and picturesque terrace-like forms. More beautiful than all the rest, towers in snowy grandeur the mighty chain of the Anti- Lebanon, its white surface glittering in the rays of the sun, and distinctly mirrored in the clear bosom of the lake. Deep down lies the little town of Tabarith, shadowed by palm-trees, and guarded by a castle raised a little above it. The unexpected beauty of this scene surprised us so much that we alighted from our horses, and passed more than half an hour on the summit of the mountain, to gaze at our leisure upon the wondrous picture. Count S. drew a hurried but very successful sketch of the landscape which we all admired so much, though its mountains were naked and bare. But such is the peculiar character of Eastern scenery; in Europe, meadows, alps, and woods exhibit quite a distinct class of natural beauty. In a mountain region of Europe, a sight like the one we were now admiring would scarcely have charmed us so much. But in these regions, poor alike in inhabitants and in scenery, the traveller is contented with little, and a little thing charms him. For instance, would not a plain piece of beef have been a greater luxury to us on our journey than the most costly delicacies at home? Thus we felt also with regard to scenery.

On entering the town we experienced a feeling of painful emotion. Tabarith lay still half in ruins; for the dreadful earthquake of 1839 had made this place one of the chief victims of its fury. How must the town have looked immediately after the calamity, when even now, in spite of the extensive repairs, it appears almost like a heap of ruins! We saw some houses that had completely fallen in; others were very much damaged, with large cracks in the walls, and shattered terraces and towers: every where, in short, we wandered among ruins. Above 4000 persons, more than half of the entire population, are said to have perished by this earthquake.

We alighted at the house of a Jewish doctor, who entertains strangers, as there is no inn at Tabarith. I was quite surprised to find every thing so clean and neat in this man's house. The little rooms were simply but comfortably furnished, the small courtyard was flagged with large stones, and round the walls of the hall were ranged narrow benches with soft cushions. We were greatly astonished at this appearance of neatness and order; but our wonder rose when we made the discovery that the Jews, who are very numerous at Tabarith, are not clothed in the Turkish or Greek fashion, but quite like their brethren in Poland and Galicia. Most of them also spoke German. I immediately inquired the reason of this peculiarity, and was informed that all the Jewish families resident in this town originally came from Poland or Russia, with the intention of dying in the Promised Land. As a rule, all Jews seem to cherish a warm desire to pass their last days in the country of their forefathers, and to be buried there.

We requested our young hostess, whose husband was absent, to prepare for us without delay a good quantity of pilau and fowls; adding, that we would in the mean time look at the town and the neighbouring baths at the Sea of Gennesareth, but that we should return in an hour and a half at the most.

We then proceeded to the Sea of Gennesareth, which is a fresh-water lake. We entered a fisherman's boat, in order that we might sail on the waters where our Lord had once bid the winds "be still." We were rowed to the warm springs, which rise near the shore, a few hundred paces from the town. On the lake all was calm; but no sooner had we landed than a storm arose—between the fishermen and ourselves. In this country, if strangers neglect to bargain beforehand for every stage with guides, porters, and people of this description, they are nearly sure of being charged an exorbitant sum in the end. This happened to us on our present little trip, which certainly did not occupy more than half an hour. We took our seats in the boat without arranging for the fares; and on disembarking offered the fishermen a very handsome reward. But these worthies threw down the money, and demanded thirty piastres; whereas, if we had bargained with them at first, they would certainly not have asked ten. We gave them fifteen piastres, to get rid of them; but this did not satisfy their greediness; on the contrary, they yelled and shouted, until the Count's servants threatened to restore peace and quietness with their sticks. At length the fishermen were so far brought to their senses that they walked away, scolding and muttering as they went.

Adjoining the warm springs we found a bathing-house, built in a round form and covered with a cupola. Here we also met a considerable number of pilgrims, mostly Greeks and Armenians from the neighbourhood, who were journeying to Jerusalem. They had encamped beside the bathing-house. Half of these people were in the water, where a most animated conversation was going on. We also wished to enter the building, not for the purpose of bathing, but to view the beauty and arrangements of the interior, which have been the subject of many laudatory descriptions; but at the entrance such a cloud of vapour came rolling towards us that we were unable to penetrate far. I saw enough, however, to feel convinced, that in the description of these baths poetry or exaggeration had led many a pen far beyond the bounds of fact. Neither the exterior of this building, nor the cursory glance I was enabled to throw into the interior, excited either my curiosity or my astonishment. Seen from without, these baths resemble a small-sized house built in a very mediocre style, and with very slender claims to beauty. The interior displayed a large quantity of marble,—for instance, in the floor, the sides of the bath, etc. But marble is not such a rarity in this country that it can raise this bathing-kiosk into a wonder- building, or render it worthy of more than a passing glance. I endeavour to see every thing exactly as it stands before me, and to describe it in my simple diary without addition or ornament.

At eight o'clock in the evening we returned tired and hungry to our comfortable quarters, flattering ourselves that we should find the plain supper we had ordered a few hours before smoking on the covered table, ready for our arrival. But neither in the hall nor in the chamber could we find even a table, much less a covered one. Half dead with exhaustion, we threw ourselves on chairs and benches, looking forward with impatience to the supper and the welcome rest that was to follow it. Messenger after messenger was despatched to the culinary regions, to inquire if the boiled fowls were not yet in an eatable condition. Each time we were promised that supper would be ready "in a quarter of an hour," and each time nothing came of it. At length, at ten o'clock, a table was brought into the room; after some time a single chair, appeared, and then one more; then came another interval of waiting, until at length a clean table- cloth was laid. These arrivals occupied the time until eleven o'clock, when the master of the house, who had been absent on an excursion, made his appearance, and with him came a puny roast fowl. No miracle, alas, took place at our table like that of the plain of Saphed; we were but seven persons, and so the fowl need only have been increased seven times to satisfy us all; but as it was, each person received one rib and no more. Our supper certainly consisted of several courses brought in one after the other. Had we known this, we certainly should soon have arranged the matter, for then each person would have appropriated the whole of a dish to himself. In the space of an hour and a quarter nine or ten little dishes made their appearance; but the portion of food contained in each was so small, that our supper may be said to have consisted of a variety of "tastes." We would greatly have preferred two good-sized dishes to all these kickshaws. The dishes were, a roast, a boiled, and a baked chicken, a little plate of prepared cucumbers, an equally small portion of this vegetable in a raw state, a little pilau, and a few small pieces of mutton.

Our host kindly provided food for the mind during supper by describing to us a series of horrible scenes which had occurred at the time of the earthquake. He, too, had lost his wife and children by this calamity, and only owed his own life to the circumstance that he was absent at a sick-bed when the earthquake took place.

Half an hour after midnight we at length sought our resting-places. The doctor very kindly gave up his three little bedrooms to us, but the heat was so oppressive that we preferred quartering ourselves on the stones in the yard. They made a very hard bed, but we none of us felt symptoms of indigestion after our sumptuous meal.

June 16th.

At five o'clock in the morning we took leave of our host, and returned in six hours to Nazareth by the same road on which we had already travelled. We did not, however, ascend Mount Tabor a second time, but rode along beside its base. To-day I once more visited all the spots I had seen when I was so ill two days before; in this pursuit I passed some very agreeable hours.

June 17th.

In the morning, at half-past four, we once more bade farewell to the worthy priests of Nazareth, and rode without stopping for nine hours and a half, until at two o'clock we reached


It was long since we had travelled on such a good road as that on which we journeyed to-day. Now and then, however, a piece truly Syrian in character had to be encountered, probably lest we should lose the habit of facing hardship and danger. Another comfort was that we were not obliged to-day to endure thirst, as we frequently passed springs of good clear water. At one time our way even led through a small oak-wood, a phenomenon almost unprecedented in Syria. There was certainly not a single tree in all the wood which a painter might have chosen for a study, for they were all small and crippled. Large leafy trees, like those in my own land, are very seldom seen in this country. The carob, which grows here in abundance, is almost the only handsome tree; it has a beautiful leaf, scarcely larger than that of a rose-tree, of an oval form, as thick as the back of a knife, and of a beautiful bright green colour.

Mount Carmel lies on the sea-shore. It is not high, and half an hour suffices the traveller to reach its summit, which is crowned by a spacious and beautiful convent, probably the handsomest in all Palestine, not even excepting the monasteries at Nazareth and Jerusalem. The main front of the building contains a suite of six or seven large rooms, with folding-doors and lofty regular windows. These rooms, together with several in the wings, are devoted to the reception of strangers. They are arranged in European style, with very substantial pieces of furniture, among which neither sofas nor useful chests of drawers are wanting.

About an hour after we arrived our reverend hosts regaled us with a more sumptuous meal than any of which I had partaken since my departure from Constantinople.

In proportion as our fare had been meagre and our accommodation indifferent at Nazareth and Jerusalem, did we find every thing here excellent. In an elegant dining-room stood a large table covered with a fine white cloth, on which cut glass and clean knives, forks, and china plates gleamed invitingly. A servant in European garb placed some capital fast-day fare on the table (it was Friday), and a polite priest kept us company; but not in eating, for he rightly considered that such a hungry company would not require any example to fall to.

During the whole remainder of our journey through Syria this convent occupied a green spot in our memory. How capitally would a few days' rest here have recruited our strength! But the gentlemen had a distant goal before their eyes, and "Forward!" was still the cry.

After dinner we went down to the sea-shore, to visit the large grotto called the "Prophets' school." This grotto has really the appearance of a lofty and spacious hall, where a number of disciples could have sat and listened to the words of the prophet.

The grotto in which Elijah is said to have lived is situated in a church at the top of the mountain. Mount Carmel is quite barren, being only covered here and there with brambles; but the view is magnificent. In the foreground the eye can roam over the boundless expanse of ocean, while at the foot of the mountain it fords a resting-place in the considerable town of Haifa, lying in a fertile plain, which extends to the base of the high mountains, bounded in the distance by the Anti-Libanus, and farther still by the Lebanon itself. Along the line of coast we can distinguish Acre (or Ptolemais), Sur (Tyre), and Soida (Sidon).

June 18th.

This morning we sent our poor over-tired horses on before us to Hese, and walked on foot at midday under a temperature of 33 degrees to Haifas, a distance of more than two miles. Heated and exhausted to the last degree we reached the house of the Consul, who is a Catholic, but seems nevertheless to live quite in Oriental fashion. This gentleman is consul both for France and Austria. Although he was not at home when we arrived, we were immediately shewn into the room of state, where we reclined on soft divans, and were regaled with sherbet of all colours, green, yellow, red, etc., and with coffee flavoured with roses, which we did not like. Hookahs (or tchibuks) were also handed round. At length the Consul's wife appeared, a young and beautiful lady of an imposing figure, dressed in the Oriental garb. She smoked her tchibuk with as much ease as the gentlemen. Luckily a brother of this lady who understood something of Italian was present, and kindly acted as interpreter. I have never found an Oriental woman who knew any language but that of her own country.

After we had rested ourselves, we pursued our journey in a boat to Acre. On my road to Jerusalem I had only seen the outside of this monument of the last war, now I could view its interior; but saw nothing to repay me for my trouble. Considering how ugly the Turkish towns are even when they are in good preservation, it may easily be imagined that the appearance of one of these cities is not improved when it is full of shot-holes, and the streets and interiors of the houses are choked up with rubbish. The entrance to the convent lies through the courtyard of the Turkish barracks, where there seemed to be a great deal of bustle, and where we had an opportunity of noticing how wretchedly clad, and still more miserably shod, the Turkish soldiers are. These blemishes are not so much observed when the men are seen singly at their posts.

The convent here is very small, being in fact only a dwelling-house to which a chapel is attached. Two monks and a lay brother form the whole household.

Scarcely had I established myself in my room, before a very polite lady entered, who introduced herself to me as the wife of a surgeon in the service of the pacha here. She stated that her husband was at present absent at Constantinople, and added that she was in the habit of spending several hours in the convent every evening to do the honours of the house! This assertion struck me as so strange, that I should certainly have remained dumb had not my visitor been a very agreeable, polite French lady. As it was, however, we chatted away the evening pleasantly together, until the supper-bell summoned us to the refectory. All that I saw in this convent was in direct contrast to the arrangement of the comfortable establishment of the Carmelites. The refectory here is astonishingly dirty; the whole furniture consists of two dingy tables and some benches; the table- cloth, plates, etc. wore the prevailing livery; and the fare was quite in keeping with every thing else. We supped at two tables; the gentlemen and the reverend fathers sitting at one, while the French lady and myself occupied the other.

June 19th.

As we were not to travel far to-day, we did not set out until ten o'clock, when we started in company of several Franks who were in the pacha's service. They led us into a park by the roadside belonging to the mother of the Sultan. Here the pacha usually resides during the summer. In half an hour's time we reached this park. The garden is rather handsome, but does not display many plants except lemon, orange, pomegranate, and cypress trees. The display of flowers was not very remarkable; for not only could we discover no rare or foreign plants, but we also missed many flowers which grow plentifully in our gardens at home. A few kiosks are here to be seen, but every thing seemed miserably out of repair.

The residence of the pacha, situated outside the gardens, has a more inviting appearance. We paid our respects to his highness, who received us very graciously, and caused us to be regaled with the usual beverages. No sooner had the high ladies in the harem learnt that a Frankish woman was in their territory, than they sent to invite me to visit them. I gladly accepted this invitation, the more so as it offered an opportunity of gratifying my curiosity. I was conducted to another part of the house, where I stepped into a chamber of middle size, the floor of which was covered with mats and carpets, while on cushions ranged round the walls reclined beauties of various complexions, who seemed to have been collected from every quarter of the globe. One of these women, who was rather elderly, appeared to be the pacha's chief wife, for all the rest pointed to her. The youngest lady seemed about eighteen or nineteen years of age, and was the mother of a child eight months old, with which they were all playing as with a doll; the poor little thing was handed about from hand to hand. These ladies were dressed exactly like the daughters of the consul at Joppa, whose costume I have described. I did not see any signs of particular beauty, unless the stoutness of figure so prevalent here is considered in that light. I saw, however, a woman with one eye, a defect frequently observed in the East. Female slaves were there of all shades of colour. One wore a ring through her nose, and another had tastefully painted her lips blue. Both mistresses and slaves had their eyebrows and eyelashes painted black, and their nails and the palm of the hand stained a light-brown with the juice of the henna.

The Oriental women are ignorant and inquisitive in the highest degree; they can neither read nor write, and the knowledge of a foreign language is quite out of the question. It is very rarely that one of them understands embroidering in gold. Whenever I happened to be writing in my journal, men, women, and children would gather round me, and gaze upon me and my book with many signs and gestures expressive of astonishment.

The ladies of the harem seemed to look with contempt upon employment and work of every kind; for neither here nor elsewhere did I see them do any thing but sit cross-legged on carpets and cushions, drinking coffee, smoking nargile, and gossiping with one another. They pressed me to sit down on a cushion, and then immediately surrounded me, endeavouring, by signs, to ask many questions. First they took my straw hat and put it upon their heads; then they felt the stuff of my travelling robe; but they seemed most of all astonished at my short hair, {165} the sight of which seemed to impress these poor ignorant women with the idea that nature had denied long hair to the Europeans. They asked me by signs how this came to pass, and every lady came up and felt my hair. They seemed also very much surprised that I was so thin, and offered me their nargile, besides sherbet and cakes. On the whole, our conversation was not very animated, for we had no dragoman to act as interpreter, so that we were obliged to guess at what was meant, and at length I sat silently among these Orientals, and was heartily glad when, at the expiration of an hour, my friends sent to fetch me away. At a later period of my journey I frequently visited harems, and sometimes considerable ones; but I found them all alike. The only difference lay in the fact that some harems contained more beautiful women and slaves, and that in others the inmates were more richly clad; but every where I found the same idle curiosity, ignorance, and apathy. Perhaps they may be more happy than European women; I should suppose they were, to judge from their comfortable figures and their contented features. Corpulence is said frequently to proceed from a good-natured and quiet disposition; and their features are so entirely without any fixed character and expression, that I do not think these women capable of deep passions or feeling either for good or evil. Exceptions are of course to be found even among the Turkish women; I only report what I observed on the average.

This day we rode altogether for seven hours. We passed a beautiful orange-grove; for the greater part of the way our road led through deep sand, close by the sea-shore; but once we had to pass a dreadfully dangerous place called the "White Mount," one extremity of which rises out of the sea. This once passed, we soon come upon the beautiful far-stretching aqueduct which I noticed on my journey from Joppa to Jerusalem. It traverses a portion of this fruitful plain.

We could not enter the little town of Sur, the goal of this day's journey, as it was closed on account of the plague. We therefore passed by, and pitched our tents beside a village, in the neighbourhood of which large and splendid cisterns of water, hewn in the rock, are to be seen. The superfluous water from these cisterns falls from a height of twenty or thirty feet, and after turning a mill-wheel, flows through the vale in the form of a brook.


River Mishmir—Saida—Arnauts—Desert-path—Residence of Lady Hester Stanhope—Beyrout—The consul's—Uncomfortable quarters—Sickness— The Bazaar—Vexatious delays—Departure from Beyrout—Beautiful views—Syrian costumes—Damascus—Aspect of the city—House of the consul.

June 20th.

Shortly after five this morning we were in our saddles, and a few hours afterwards arrived at the beautiful river Mishmir, which is as broad as the Jordan, though it does not contain nearly so much water. Next to the Jordan, however, this river is the largest we find on our journey, besides being a most agreeable object in a region so destitute of streams. Its water is pure as crystal.

In ten hours we reached the town, and at once repaired to the convent, as not one of these cities contains an inn. The little convent, with its tiny church, is situate at the end of a large courtyard, which is so thronged with horses and men, particularly with soldiers, that we had great difficulty in forcing our way through. When we had at length cleared a passage for ourselves to the entrance, we were received with the agreeable intelligence that there was no room for us. What was to be done? We thought ourselves lucky in obtaining a little room where we could pass the night in a house belonging to a Greek family; beds were, however, out of the question; we had to lie on the hard stones. In the courtyard a kind of camp had been pitched, in which twelve state- horses of the Emir {167} of Lebanon (creatures of the true Arab breed) were bivouacking among a quantity of Arnauts.

The Arnaut soldiers are universally feared, but more by friend than foe. They are very turbulent, and behave in an overbearing manner towards the people. The Count, my fellow-traveller, was even insulted in the street, not by a peasant, but by one of these military fellows. These ill-disciplined troops are assembled every where, in order that they may be ready to attack whenever a disturbance occurs between the Druses and Maronites. I consider, however, that the Arnauts are much more to be feared than either the Druses or the Maronites, through whose territories we afterwards journeyed without experiencing, in a single instance, either insult or injury. I hardly think we should have escaped so well had we encountered a troop of these wild horsemen.

Among all the Turkish soldiers the Arnauts are the best dressed; with their short and full white skirts of linen or lawn, and tight trousers of white linen, a scarf round the middle, and a white or a red spencer, they closely resemble the Albanians.

June 21st.

This was a most fatiguing day, although we did not ride for more than ten hours; but this ten hours' journey was performed without even a quarter of an hour's rest, though the thermometer stood at 33 degrees Reaumur. Our path lay through a sandy desert, about two miles in breadth, running parallel with the mountain-range from Saida to Beyrout. The monotony of the steppe is only broken at intervals by heaps of sand. The surface of the sand presents the appearance of a series of waves; the particles of which it is composed are very minute, and of a fine yellowish-brown colour. A beautiful fertile valley adjoins this desert, and stretches towards Mount Lebanon, on whose brown rocky surface several villages can be descried.

This mountain-range has a most imposing appearance. White rocks and strata of white sand shine forth from its broad and generally barren expanse like fields of snow.

The residence of the late Lady Hester Stanhope can be seen in the distance on the declivity of the mountain.

During our long ride of ten hours we did not pass a single tank, spring, or even pool, and all the river-beds on our way were completely dried up by the heat. Not a tree could we see that could shelter us for a moment from the glaring heat of the sun. It was a day of torment for us and for our poor beasts. Two of our brave horses sank from exhaustion, and could go no farther, though relieved of their burdens; we were obliged to leave the poor creatures to perish by the wayside.

At three in the afternoon we at length arrived at Beyrout, after having bravely encountered, during ten consecutive days, the toil and hardship inseparable from a journey through Syria.

The distance from Jerusalem to Beyrout is about 200 miles, allowing for the circuitous route by way of Tabarith, which travellers are not, however, compelled to take. From Jerusalem to Nazareth is 54 miles; from Nazareth across Mount Tabor to Tabarith and back again 31 miles; from Nazareth to Mount Carmel, Haifas, and Acre, 46 miles; and from Acre to Beyrout 69 miles; making the total 200 miles.

Our poor horses suffered dreadfully during this journey; for they were continually obliged either to climb over rocks, stones, and mountains, or to wade through hot sand, in which they sank above the fetlocks at every step. It would have been a better plan had we only engaged our horses from Jerusalem to Nazareth, where we could have procured fresh ones to carry us on to Beyrout. We had been told at Jerusalem that it was sometimes impossible to obtain horses at Nazareth, and so preferred engaging our beasts at once for the whole journey. On arriving at Nazareth we certainly discovered that we had been deceived, for horses are always to be had there in plenty; but as the contract was once made, we were obliged to abide by it.

During the ten days of our journey the temperature varied exceedingly. By day the heat fluctuated between 18 and 39 degrees Reaumur; the nights too were very changeable, being sometimes sultry, and sometimes bitterly cold.


lies in a sandy plain; but the mulberry-trees by which it is surrounded impart to this city an air of picturesque beauty. Still we wade every where, in the streets, gardens, and alleys, through deep sand. Viewed from a distance, Beyrout has a striking effect, a circumstance I had remarked on my first arrival there from Constantinople; but it loses considerably on a nearer approach. I did not enjoy walking through the town and its environs; but it was a great pleasure to me to sit on a high terrace in the evening, and look down upon the landscape. The dark-blue sky rose above the distant mountains, the fruitful valley, and the glittering expanse of ocean. The golden sun was still illumining the peaks of the mountains with its farewell rays, until at length it sunk from view, shrouding every thing in a soft twilight. Then I saw the innumerable stars shine forth, and the moon shed its magic light over the nocturnal landscape; and that mind can scarcely be called human which does not feel the stirring of better feelings within it at such a spectacle. Truly the temple of the Lord is every where; and throughout all nature there is a mysterious something that tells even the infidel of the omnipresence of the Great Spirit. How many beautiful evenings did I not enjoy at Beyrout! they were, in fact, the only compensation for the grievous hardships I was obliged to endure during my stay in this town.

In the inn I could again not find a single room, and was this time much more at a loss to find a place of shelter than I had been before; for our host's wife had gone out of town with her children, and had let her private house; so I sat, in the fullest sense of the word, "in the street." A clergyman, whose acquaintance I had made in Constantinople, and who happened just then to be at Beyrout, took compassion upon me, and procured me a lodging in the house of a worthy Arab family just outside the town. Now I certainly had a roof above my head, but I could not make myself understood; for not a soul spoke Italian, and my whole knowledge of Arabic was comprised in the four words: taib, moi, sut, mafish—beautiful, water, milk, and nothing.

With so limited a stock of expressions at my command, I naturally could not make much way, and the next day I was placed in a very disagreeable dilemma. I had hired a boy to show me the way to a church, and explained to him by signs that he was to wait to conduct me home again. On emerging from the church I could see nothing of my guide. After waiting for some time in vain, I was at length compelled to try and find my way alone.

The house in which I lived stood in a garden of mulberry-trees, but all the houses in the neighbourhood were built in the same style, each having a tower attached, in which there is a habitable room; all these dwellings stand in gardens planted with mulberry-trees, some of them not separated from each other at all, and the rest merely by little sand-hills. Flowers and vegetables are nowhere to be seen, nor is the suburb divided into regular streets; so that I wandered in an endless labyrinth of trees and houses. I met none but Arabs, whose language I did not understand, and who could, therefore, give me no information. So I rushed to and fro, until at length, after a long and fatiguing pilgrimage, I was lucky enough to stumble on the house I wanted. Unwilling to expose myself to such a disagreeable adventure a second time, I thought it would be preferable to dwell within the town; and therefore hired the young guide before mentioned to conduct me to the house of the Austrian Consul-General Herr von A. Unfortunately this gentleman was not visible to such an insignificant personage as myself, and sent me word that I might come again in a few hours. This was a true "Job's message" for me, as far as consolation went. The heat was most oppressive; I had now entered the town for the second time, to be sent once more back to the glowing sands, with permission to "come again in a few hours." Had I not been uncommonly hardy, I should have succumbed. But luckily I knew a method to help myself. I ordered my little guide to lead me to the house in which the wife of Battista the innkeeper had lived.

During my previous residence at Beyrout I had accidentally heard that a French lady lodged in the same house, and occupied herself with the education of the children. I went to call on this French lady, and was lucky enough to find her; so I had, at any rate, so far succeeded that I had found a being with whom I could converse, and of whom I might request advice and assistance. My new acquaintance was an extremely cordial maiden lady about forty years of age. Her name was Pauline Kandis. My unfortunate position awakened her compassion so much, that she placed her own room at my disposal for the time being. I certainly saw that my present quarters left much to be desired, for my kind entertainer's lodging consisted of a single room, divided into two parts by several tall chests; the foremost division contained a large table, at which four girls sat and stood at their lessons. The second division formed a kind of lumber-room, redolent of boxes, baskets, and pots, and furnished with a board, laid on an old tub, to answer the purposes of a table. My condition was, however, so forlorn, that I took joyful possession of the lumber-room assigned to me. I immediately departed with my boy-guide, and by noon I was already installed, with bag and baggage, in the dwelling of my kind hostess. But there was no more walking for me that day. What with the journey and my morning's peregrinations I was so exhausted that I requested nothing but a resting-place, which I found among the old chests and baskets on the floor. I was right glad to lie down, and court the rest that I needed so much.

At seven o'clock in the evening the school closed. Miss K. then took her leave, and I remained sole occupant of her two rooms, which she only uses as school-rooms, for she sleeps at her brother's house.

My lodging at Miss K.'s was, however, the most uncomfortable of any I had yet occupied during my entire journey.

From eight o'clock in the morning until seven at night four or five girls, who did any thing rather than study, were continually in the room. The whole day long there was such a noise of shouting, screaming, and jumping about, that I could not hear the sound of my own voice. Moreover, the higher regions of this hall of audience contained eight pigeons' nests; and the old birds, which were so tame that they not only took the food from our plates, but stole it out of our very mouths, fluttered continually about the room, so that we were obliged to look very attentively at every chair on which we intended to sit down. On the floor a cock was continually fighting with his three wives; and a motherly hen, with a brood of eleven hopeful ducks, cackled merrily between. I wonder that I did not contract a squint, for I was obliged continually to look upwards and downwards lest I should cause mischief, and lest mischief should befall me. During the night the heat and the stench were almost insupportable; and immediately after midnight the cock always began to crow, as if he earned his living by the noise he made. I used to open the window every night to make a passage of escape for the heat and the foul air, while I lay down before the door, like Napoleon's Mameluke, to guard the treasures entrusted to my care. But on the second night two wandering cats had already discovered my whereabouts—without the least compunction they stepped quietly over me into the chamber, and began to raise a murderous chase. I instantly jumped up and drove away the robbers; and from that time forward I was obliged to remain in the interior of my fortress, carefully to barricade all the windows, and bear my torments with what fortitude I might.

Our diet was also of a very light description. A sister-in-law of the good Pauline was accustomed to send in our dinner, which consisted one day of a thimbleful of saffron-coloured pilau, while the next would perhaps bring half the shoulder of a small fish. Had I boarded with my hostess, I should have kept fast-day five days in the week, and have had nothing to eat on the remaining two. I therefore at once left off dining with them, and used to cook a good German dish for myself every day. In the morning I asked for some milk, in order to make my coffee after the German fashion. Yet I think that some of our adulterators of milk must have penetrated even to Syria, for I found it as difficult to obtain pure goats' milk here as to get good milk from the cow in my own country.

My bedstead was formed out of an old chest, and my sole employment and amusement was idling. I had not a book to read, no table to write on; and if I once really succeeded in getting something to read or made an attempt at writing, the whole tribe of youngsters would come clustering round, staring at my book or at my paper. It would certainly have been useless to complain, but yet I could not always entirely conceal the annoyance I felt.

My friends must pardon me for describing my cares so minutely, but I only do so to warn all those who would wish to undertake a journey like mine, without being either very rich, very high-born, or very hardy, that they had much better remain at home.

As I happened to be neither rich nor high-born, the Consul would not receive me at all the first time I called upon him, although the captain of a steamer had been admitted to an audience just before I applied. A few days afterwards I once more waited upon the Consul, told him of my troubles, and stated plainly how thankful I should feel if any one would assist me so far as to procure me a respectable lodging, for which I would gladly pay, and where I could remain until an opportunity offered to go to Alexandria; the worthy Consul was kind enough to reply to my request with a shake of the head, and with the comforting admission that "he was very sorry for me—it was really extremely unfortunate." I think the good gentleman must have left all his feeling at home before settling in Syria, otherwise he would never have dismissed me with a few frivolous speeches, particularly as I assured him that I was perfectly well provided with money, and would bear any expense, but added that it was possible to be placed in positions where want of advice was more keenly felt than want of means. During the whole of my residence at Beyrout, my countryman never troubled himself any more about me.

During my stay here I made an excursion to the grotto, said to be the scene of St. George's combat with the dragon; this grotto is situate to the right of the road, near the quarantine-house. The ride thither offers many fine views, but the grotto itself is not worth seeing.

Frequently in the evening I went to visit an Arab family, when I would sit upon the top of the tower and enjoy the sight of the beautiful sunset.

A very strong military force was posted at Beyrout, consisting entirely of Arnauts. They had pitched their tents outside the town, which thus wore the appearance of a camp. Many of these towns do not contain barracks; and as the soldiers are not here quartered in private houses, they are compelled to bivouack in the open field.

The bazaar is very large and straggling. On one occasion I had the misfortune to lose myself among its numerous lanes, from which it took me some time to extricate myself; I had an opportunity of seeing many of the articles of merchandise, and an immense number of shops, but none which contained any thing very remarkable. Once more I found how prone people are to exaggerate. I had been warned to abstain from walking in the streets, and, above all, to avoid venturing into the bazaar. I neglected both pieces of advice, and walked out once or twice every day during my stay, without once meeting with an adventure of any kind.

I had already been at Beyrout ten long, long days, and still no opportunity offered of getting to Alexandria. But at the end of June the worthy artist Sattler, whose acquaintance I had made at Constantinople, arrived here. He found me out, and proposed that I should travel to Damascus with Count Berchtold, a French gentleman of the name of De Rousseau, and himself, instead of wasting my time here. This proposition was a welcome one to me, for I ardently desired to be released from my fowls' nest. My arrangements were soon completed, for I took nothing with me except some linen and a mattress, which were packed on my horse's back.


July 1st.

At one o'clock in the afternoon we were all assembled before the door of M. Battista's inn, and an hour later we were in our saddles hastening towards the town-gate. At first we rode through a deep sea of sand surrounding the town; but soon we reached the beautiful valley which lies stretched at the foot of the Anti-Libanus, and afterwards proceeded towards the range by pleasant paths, shaded by pine-woods and mulberry-plantations.

But now the ascent of the magnificent Anti-Libanus became steeper and more dangerous, as we advanced on rocky paths, often scarcely a foot in breadth, and frequently crossed by fissures and brooklets. Some time elapsed before I could quite subdue my fear, and could deliver myself wholly up to the delight of contemplating these grand scenes, so completely new to us Europeans, leaving my horse, which planted its feet firmly and without once stumbling among the blocks of stone lying loosely on each other, to carry me as its instinct directed; for these horses are exceedingly careful, being well used to these dangerous roads. We could not help laughing heartily at our French companion, who could not screw up his courage sufficiently to remain on his horse at the very dangerous points. At first he always dismounted when we came to such a spot; but at length he grew weary of eternally mounting and dismounting, and conquered his fear, particularly when he observed that we depended so entirely on the sagacity of our steeds, and gave ourselves completely up to the contemplation of the mountains around us. It is impossible adequately to describe the incomparable forms of this mountain-range. The giant rocks, piled one above the other, glow with the richest colours; lovely green valleys lie scattered between; while numerous villages are seen, sometimes standing isolated on the rocks, and at others peering forth from among the deep shade of the olive and mulberry trees.

The sun sinking into the sea shot its last rays through the clear pure air towards the highest peaks of the mighty rocks. Every thing united to form a picture which when once seen can never be forgotten.

The tints of the rocky masses are peculiarly remarkable; exhibiting not only the primary colours, but many gradations, such as bluish- green, violet, etc. Many rocks were covered with a red coating resembling cinnabar, in several places we found small veins of pure sulphur, and each moment something new and wonderful met our gaze. The five hours which we occupied in riding from Beyrout to the village of Elhemsin passed like five minutes. The khan of Elhemsin was already occupied by a caravan bringing wares and fruit from Damascus, so that we had nothing for it but to raise our tent and encamp beneath it.

July 2d.

The rising sun found us prepared for departure, and soon we had reached an acclivity from whence we enjoyed a magnificent view. Before us rose the lofty peaks of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus, partly covered with snow; while behind us the mountains, rich in vineyards, olive-plantations, and pine-woods, stretched downward to the sea- shore. We had mounted to such a height, that the clouds soaring above the sea and the town of Beyrout lay far beneath us, shrouding the city from our gaze.

Vineyards are very common on these mountains. The vines do not, however, cling round trees for support, nor are they trained up poles as in Austria; they grow almost wild, the stem shooting upwards to a short distance from the ground, towards which the vine then bends. The wine made on these mountains is of excellent quality, rather sweet in flavour, of a golden-yellow colour, and exceedingly fiery.

We still continued to climb, without experiencing much inconvenience from the heat, up a fearful dizzy path, over rocks and stones, and past frightful chasms. Our leathern bottles were here useless to us, for we had no lack of water; from every crevice in the rocks a clear crystal flood gushed forth, in which the gorgeously-coloured masses of stone were beautifully mirrored.

After a very fatiguing ride of five hours we at length reached the ridge of the Anti-Libanus, where we found a khan, and allowed ourselves an hour's rest. The view from this point is very splendid. The two loftiest mountain-ridges of Lebanon and Anti- Libanus enclose between them a valley which may be about six miles long, and ten or twelve broad. Our way led across the mountain's brow and down into this picturesque valley, through which we journeyed for some miles to the village of Maschdalanscher, in the neighbourhood of which place we pitched our tents.

It is, of course, seldom that a European woman is seen in these regions, and thus I seemed to be quite a spectacle to the inhabitants; at every place where we halted many women and children would gather round me, busily feeling my dress, putting on my straw hat, and looking at me from all sides, while they endeavoured to converse with me by signs. If they happened to have any thing eatable at hand, such as cucumbers, fruits, or articles of that description, they never failed to offer them with the greatest good- nature, and seemed highly rejoiced when I accepted some. On the present evening several of these people were assembled round me, and I had an opportunity of noticing the costume of this mountain tribe. Excepting the head-dress, it is the same as that worn throughout all Palestine, and indeed in the whole of Syria; the women have blue gowns, and the men, white blouses, wide trousers, and a sash: sometimes the women wear spencers, and the more wealthy among them even display caftans and turbans. The head-dress of the women is very original, but does not look remarkably becoming. They wear on their foreheads a tin horn more than a foot in length, and over this a white handkerchief, fastened at the back and hanging down in folds. This rule, however, only applies to the wealthier portion of the community, which is here limited enough. The poorer women wear a much smaller horn, over which they display an exceedingly dingy handkerchief. During working hours they ordinarily divest themselves of these ornaments, as they would render it impossible to carry loads on the head. The rich inhabitants of the mountains, both male and female, dress in the Oriental fashion; but the women still retain the horn, which is then made of silver.

The village of Maschdalanscher is built of clay huts thatched with straw. I saw many goats and horned cattle, and a good store of corn lay piled up before the doors.

We were assured that the roads through the mountains inhabited by the Druses and Maronites were very unsafe, and we were strongly urged to take an escort with us; but as we met caravans almost every hour, we considered this an unnecessary precaution, and arrived safely without adventure of any kind at Damascus.

July 3d.

This morning we rode at first over a very good road, till at length we came upon a ravine, which seemed hardly to afford us room to pass. Closer and more closely yet did the rocky masses approach each other, as we passed amongst the loose shingle over the dry bed of a river. Frequently the space hardly admitted of our stepping aside to allow the caravans we met to pass us. Sometimes we thought, after having painfully laboured through a ravine of this kind, that we should emerge into the open field; but each time it was only to enter a wilder and more desert pass. So we proceeded for some hours, till the rocky masses changed to heaps of sand, and every trace of vegetation disappeared. At length we had climbed the last hill, and Damascus, "the vaunted city of the East," lay before us.

It is certainly a striking sight when, escaping from the inhospitable domains of the mountain and the sandhill, we see stretched at our feet a great and luxuriant valley, forming in the freshness of its vegetation a singular contrast to the desert region around. In this valley, amid gardens and trees innumerable, extends the town, with its pretty mosques and slender lofty minarets; but I was far from finding the scene so charming that I could have exclaimed with other travellers, "This is the most beauteous spot on earth!"

The plain in which Damascus lies runs on at the foot of the Anti- Libanus as far as the mountain of Scheik, and is shut in on three sides by sandhills of an incomparably dreary appearance. On the fourth side the plain loses itself in the sandy desert. This valley is exceedingly well watered by springs descending from all the mountains, which we could not, however, see on our approach; but no river exists here. The water rushes forth but to disappear beneath the sand, and displays its richness only in the town and its immediate neighbourhood.

From the hill whence we had obtained the first view of Damascus, we have still a good two miles to ride before we reach the plantations. These are large gardens of mish-mish, walnut, pomegranate, orange, and lemon trees, fenced in with clay walls, traversed by long broad streets, and watered by bubbling brooks. For a long time we journeyed on in the shade of these fruitful woods, till at length we entered the town through a large gate. Our enthusiastic conceptions of this renowned city were more and more toned down as we continued to advance.

The houses in Damascus are almost all built of clay and earth, and many ugly wooden gables and heavy window-frames give a disagreeable ponderous air to the whole. Damascus is divided into several parts by gates, which are closed soon after sunset. We passed through a number of these gates, and also through the greater portion of the bazaar, on our road to the Franciscan convent.

We had this day accomplished a journey of more than twenty-four miles, in a temperature of 35 to 36 degrees Reaum., and had suffered much from the scorching wind, which came laden with particles of dust. Our faces were so browned, that we might easily have been taken for descendants of the Bedouins. This was the only day that I felt my eyes affected by the glare.

Although we were much fatigued on arriving at the convent, the first thing we did, after cleansing ourselves from dust and washing our burning eyes, was to hasten to the French and English consuls, so eager were we to see the interior of some of these clay huts.

A low door brought us into a passage leading to a large yard. We could have fancied ourselves transported by magic to the scene of one of the fantastic "Arabian Nights," for all the glory of the East seemed spread before our delighted gaze. In the midst of the courtyard, which was paved with large stones, a large reservoir, with a sparkling fountain, spread a delightful coolness around. Orange and lemon trees dipped their golden fruit into the crystal flood; while at the sides flower-beds, filled with fragrant roses, balsams, oleanders, etc., extended to the stairs leading to the reception-room. Every thing seemed to have been done that could contribute to ornament this large and lofty apartment, which opened into the courtyard. Swelling divans, covered with the richest stuffs, lined the walls, which, tastefully ornamented with mirrors and painted and sculptured arabesques, and further decked with mosaic and gilding, displayed a magnificence of which I could not have formed a conception. In the foreground of this fairy apartment a jet of water shot upwards from a marble basin. The floor was also of marble, forming beautiful pictures in the most varied colours; and over the whole scene was spread that charm so peculiar to the Orientals, a charm combining the tasteful with the rich and gorgeous. The apartment in which the women dwell, and where they receive their more confidential visitors, are similar to the one I have just described, except that they are smaller, less richly furnished, and completely open in front. The remaining apartments also look into the courtyard; they are simply, but comfortably and prettily arranged.

All the houses of the Orientals are similar to this one, except that the apartments of the women open into another courtyard than those of the men.

After examining and admiring every thing to our heart's content, we returned to our hospitable convent. This evening the clerical gentlemen entertained us. A tolerably nice meal, with wine and good bread, restored our exhausted energies to a certain extent.

At Beyrout we were quite alarmed at the warnings we received concerning the numbers of certain creeping things we should find here in the bedsteads. I therefore betook myself to bed with many qualms and misgivings; but I slept undisturbed, both on this night and on the following one.


The bazaar at Damascus—The khan—Grotto of St. Paul—Fanaticism of the inhabitants—Departure from Damascus—The desert—Military escort—Heliopolis or Balbeck—Stupendous ruins—Continuation of our voyage through the desert—The plague—The Lebanon range—Cedar- trees—Druses and Maronites—Importunate beggars—Thievish propensities of the Arabs.

July 4th.

Damascus is one of the most ancient cities of the East, but yet we see no ruins; a proof that no grand buildings ever existed here, and that therefore the houses, as they became old and useless, were replaced by new ones.

To-day we visited the seat of all the riches—the great bazaar. It is mostly covered in, but only with beams and straw mats. On both sides are rows of wooden booths, containing all kinds of articles, but a great preponderance of eatables, which are sold at an extraordinarily cheap rate. We found the "mish-mish" particularly good.

As in Constantinople, the rarest and most costly of the wares are not exposed for sale, but must be sought for in closed store-houses. The booths look like inferior hucksters' shops, and each merchant is seen sitting in the midst of his goods. We passed hastily through the bazaar, in order soon to reach the great mosque, situate in the midst of it. As we were forbidden, however, not only to enter the mosque, but even the courtyard, we were obliged to content ourselves with wondering at the immense portals, and stealing furtive glances at the interior of the open space beyond. This mosque was originally a Christian church; and a legend tells that St. George was decapitated here.

The khan, also situate in the midst of the bazaar, is peculiarly fine, and is said to be the best in all the East. The high and boldly-arched portal is covered with marble, and enriched with beautiful sculptures. The interior forms a vast rotunda, surrounded by galleries, divided from each other, and furnished with writing- tables for the use of the merchants. Below in the hall the bales and chests are piled up, and at the side are apartments for travelling dealers. The greater portion of the floor and the walls is covered with marble.

Altogether, marble seems to be much sought after at Damascus. Every thing that passes for beautiful or valuable is either entirely composed of this stone, or at least is inlaid with it. Thus a pretty fountain in a little square near the bazaar is of marble; and a coffee-house opposite the fountain, the largest and most frequented of any in Damascus, is ornamented with a few small marble pillars. But all these buildings, not even excepting the great bathing-house, would be far less praised and looked at if they stood in a better neighbourhood. As the case is, however, they shine forth nobly from among the clay houses of Damascus.

In the afternoon we visited the Grotto of St. Paul, lying immediately outside the town. On the ramparts we were shewn the place where the apostle is said to have leaped from the wall on horseback, reaching the ground in safety, and taking refuge from his enemies in the neighbouring grotto, which is said to have closed behind him by miracle, and not to have opened again until his persecutors had ceased their pursuit. At present, nothing is to be seen of this grotto excepting a small stone archway, like that of a bridge. Tombs of modern date, consisting of vaults covered with large blocks of stone, are very numerous near this grotto.

We paid several more visits, and every where found great pomp of inner arrangement and decoration, varying of course in different houses. We were always served with coffee, sherbet, and argile; and in the houses of the Turks a dreary conversation was carried on through the medium of an interpreter.

Walks and places of amusement there are none. The number of Franks resident here is too small to call for a place of general recreation, and the Turk never feels a want of this kind. The most he does is to saunter slowly from the bath to the coffee-house, and there to kill his time with the help of a pipe and a cup of coffee, staring vacantly on the ground before him. Although the coffee- houses are more frequented than any other buildings in the East, they are often miserable sheds, being all small, and generally built only of wood.

The inhabitants of Damascus wear the usual Oriental garb, but as a rule I thought them better dressed than in any Eastern town. Some of the women are veiled, but others go abroad with their faces uncovered. I saw here some very attractive countenances; and an unusual number of lovely children's heads looked at me from all sides with an inquisitive smile.

In reference to religious matters, these people seem very fanatical; they particularly dislike strangers. For instance, the painter S. wished to make sketches of the khan, the fountain, and a few other interesting objects or views. For this purpose he sat down before the great coffee-house to begin with the fountain; but scarcely had he opened his portfolio before a crowd of curious idlers had gathered around him, who, as soon as they saw his intention, began to annoy him in every possible way. They pushed the children who stood near against him, so that he received a shock every moment, and was hindered in his drawing. As he continued to work in spite of their rudeness, several Turks came and stood directly before the painter, to prevent him from seeing the fountain. On his still continuing to persevere, they began to spit upon him. It was now high time to be gone, and so Mr. S. hastily gathered his materials together and turned to depart. Then the rage of the rabble broke noisily forth. They followed the artist yelling and screaming, and a few even threw stones at him. Luckily he succeeded in reaching our convent unharmed.

Mr. S. had been allowed to draw without opposition at Constantinople, Brussa, Ephesus, and several other cities of the East, but here he was obliged to flee. Such is the disposition of these people, whom many describe as being so friendly.

The following morning at sunrise Mr. S. betook himself to the terrace of the convent, to make a sketch of the town. Here too he was discovered, but luckily not until he had been at work some hours, and had almost completed his task; so that as soon as the first stone came flying towards him, he was able quietly to evacuate the field.

July 5th.

In Damascus we met Count Zichy, who had arrived there with his servants a few days before ourselves, and intended continuing his journey to Balbeck to-day.

Count Zichy's original intention had been to make an excursion from this place to the celebrated town of Palmyra, an undertaking which would have occupied ten days. He therefore applied to the pacha for a sufficient escort for his excursion. This request was, however, refused; the pacha observing, that he had ceased for some time to allow travellers to undertake this dangerous journey, as until now all strangers had been plundered by the wandering Arabs, and in some instances men had even been murdered. The pacha added, that it was not in his power to furnish so large an escort as would be required to render this journey safe, by enabling the travellers to resist all aggressions. After receiving this answer, Count Zichy communicated with some Bedouin chiefs, who could not guarantee a safe journey, but nevertheless required 6000 piastres for accompanying him. Thus it became necessary to give up the idea altogether, and to proceed instead to Balbeck and to the heights of Lebanon.

At the hour of noon we rode out of the gate of Damascus in company with Count Zichy. The thermometer stood at 40 degrees Reaumur. Our procession presented quite a splendid appearance; for the pacha had sent a guard of honour to escort the Count to Balbeck, to testify his respect for a relation of Prince M—-.

At first our way led through a portion of the bazaar; afterwards we reached a large and splendid street which traverses the entire city, and is said to be more than four miles in length. It is so broad, that three carriages can pass each other with ease, without annoyance to the pedestrians. It is a pity that this street, which is probably the finest in the whole kingdom, should be so little used, for carriages are not seen here any more than in the remaining portion of Syria.

Scarcely have we quitted this road, before we are riding through gardens and meadows, among which the country-houses of the citizens lie scattered here and there. On this side of the city springs also gush forth and water the fresh groves and the grassy sward. A stone bridge, of very simple construction, led us across the largest stream in the neighbourhood, the Barada, which is, however, neither so broad nor so full of water as the Jordan.

But soon we had left these smiling scenes behind us, and were wending our way towards the lonely desert. We passed several sepulchres, a number of which lie scattered over the sandy hills and plains round us. On the summit of one of these hills a little monument was pointed out to us, with the assertion that it was the grave of Abraham. We now rode for hours over flats, hills, and ridges of sand and loose stones; and this day's journey was as fatiguing as that of our arrival at Damascus. From twelve o'clock at noon until about five in the evening we continued our journey through this wilderness, suffering lamentably from the heat. But now the wilderness was passed; and suddenly a picture so lovely and grand unfolded itself before our gaze, that we could have fancied ourselves transported to the romantic vales of Switzerland. A valley enriched with every charm of nature, and shut in by gigantic rocks of marvellous and fantastic forms, opened at our feet. A mountain torrent gushed from rock to rock, foaming and chafing among mighty blocks of stone, which, hurled from above, had here found their resting-place. A natural rocky bridge led across the roaring flood. Many a friendly hut, the inhabitants of which looked forth with stealthy curiosity upon the strange visitors, lay half hidden between the lofty walls. And so our way continued; valley lay bordered on valley, and the little river which ran bubbling by the roadside led us past gardens and villages, through a region of surpassing loveliness, to the great village of Zabdeni, where we at length halted, after an uninterrupted ride of ten hours and a half.

The escort which accompanied us consisted of twelve men, with a superior and a petty officer. These troopers looked very picturesque when, as we travelled along the level road, they went through some small manoeuvres for our amusement, rushing along on their swift steeds and attacking each other, one party flying across the plain, and the other pursuing them as victors.

The character of these children of nature is, on the whole, a very amiable one. They behaved towards us in an exceedingly friendly and courteous manner, bringing us fruit and water whenever they could procure them, leading us carefully by the safest roads, and shewing us as much attention as any European could have done. But their idea of mine and thine does not always appear to be very clearly defined. Once, for instance, we passed through fields in which grew a plant resembling our pea, on a reduced scale. Each plant contained several pods, and each pod two peas. Our escort picked a large quantity, ate the fruit with an appearance of great relish, and very politely gave us a share of their prize. I found these peas less tender and eatable than those of my own country, and returned them to the soldier who had offered them to me, observing at the same time that I would rather have had mish-mish. On hearing this he immediately galloped off, and shortly afterwards returned with a whole cargo of mish-mish and little apples, which had probably been borrowed for an indefinite period from one of the neighbouring gardens. I mention these little circumstances, as they appeared to me to be characteristic. On the one hand, Mr. S. had been threatened with the fate of St. Stephen for wishing to make a few sketches; and yet, on the other, these people were so kind and so ready to oblige.

This region produces abundance of fruit, and is particularly rich in mish-mish, or apricots. The finest of these are dried; while those which are over-ripe, or half decayed, are boiled to a pulp in large pots, and afterwards spread to dry on long smooth boards, in the form of cakes, about half an inch in thickness. These cakes, which look like coarse brown leather, are afterwards folded up, and form, together with the dried mish-mish, a staple article of commerce, which is exported far and wide. In Constantinople, and even in Servia, I saw cakes of this description which came from these parts.

The Turks are particularly fond of taking this dried pulp with them on their journeys. They cut it into little pieces, which they afterwards leave for several hours in a cup of water to dissolve; it then forms a really aromatic and refreshing drink, which they partake of with bread.

From Damascus to Balbeck is a ride of eighteen hours. Count Zichy wished to be in Balbeck by the next day at noon; we therefore had but a short night's rest.

The night was so mild and beautiful, that we did not want the tents at all, but lay down on the bank of a streamlet, beneath the shade of a large tree. For a long time sleep refused to visit us, for our encampment was opposite to a coffee-house, where a great hubbub was kept up until a very late hour. Small caravans were continually arriving or departing, and so there was no chance of rest. At length we dropped quietly asleep from very weariness, to be awakened a few hours afterwards to start once more on our arduous journey.

July 6th.

We rode without halting for eight hours, sometimes through pleasant valleys, at others over barren unvarying regions, upon and between the heights of the Anti-Libanus. At the hour of noon we reached the last hill, and


the "city of the sun," lay stretched before us.

We entered a valley shut in by the highest snow-covered peaks of Lebanon and Anti-Libanus, more than six miles in breadth and fourteen or sixteen miles long, belonging to Caelosyria. Many travellers praise this vale as one of the most beautiful in all Syria.

It certainly deserves the title of the 'most remarkable' valley, for excepting at Thebes and Palmyra we may search in vain for the grand antique ruins which are here met with; the title of the 'most beautiful' does not, according to my idea, appertain to it. The mountains around are desert and bare. The immeasurable plain is sparingly cultivated, and still more thinly peopled. With the exception of the town of Balbeck, which has arisen from the ruins of the ancient city, not a village nor a hut is to be seen. The corn, which still partly covered the fields, looked stunted and poor; the beds of the streams were dry, and the grass was burnt up. The majestic ruins, which become visible directly the brow of the last hill is gained, atone in a measure for these drawbacks; but we were not satisfied, for we had expected to see much more than met our gaze.

We wended our way along stony paths, past several quarries, towards the ruins. On reaching these quarries we dismounted, to obtain a closer view of them. In the right hand one lies a colossal block of stone, cut and shaped on all sides; it is sixty feet in length, eighteen in breadth, and thirteen in diameter. This giant block was probably intended to form part of the Cyclops wall surrounding the Temple of the Sun, for we afterwards noticed several stones of equal length and breadth among the ruins. Another to the left side of the road was remarkable for several grottoes and fragments of rock picturesquely grouped.

We had sent our horses on to the convent, and now hastened towards the ruined temples. At the foot of a little acclivity a wall rose lofty and majestic; it was constructed of colossal blocks of rock, which seemed to rest firmly upon each other by their own weight, without requiring the aid of mortar. Three of these stones were exactly the size of one we had seen in the quarry. Many appeared to be sixty feet in length, and broad and thick in proportion. This is the Cyclops wall surrounding the hill on which the temples stand. A difficult path, over piled-up fragments of marble and pieces of rock and rubbish, serves as a natural rampart against the intrusion of camels and horses; and this circumstance alone has prevented these sanctuaries of the heathen deities from being converted into dirty stables.

When we had once passed this obstruction, delight and wonder arrested our footsteps. For some moments our glances wandered irresolutely from point to point; we could fix our attention on nothing, so great was the number of beauties surrounding us: splendid architecture—arches rising boldly into the air, supported on lofty pillars—every thing wore an air so severely classic, and yet all was gorgeously elegant, and at the same time perfectly tasteful.

At first we reviewed every thing in a very hasty manner, for our impulse hurried us along, and we wished to take in every thing at one glance. Afterwards we began a new and a more deliberate survey.

As we enter a large open courtyard, our eye is caught by numerous pieces of marble and fragments of columns, some of the latter resting on tastefully sculptured plinths. Almost every thing here is prostrate, covered with rubbish and broken fragments, but yet all looks grand and majestic in its ruin. We next enter a second and a larger courtyard, above two hundred paces in length and about a hundred in breadth. Round the walls are niches cut in marble, and ornamented with the prettiest arabesques. These niches were probably occupied in former times by statues of the numerous heathen gods. Behind these are little cells, the dwellings of the priests; and in the foreground rise six Corinthian pillars, the only trace left of the great Temple of the Sun. These six pillars, which have hitherto bid defiance to time, devastation, and earthquakes, are supposed to be the loftiest and most magnificent in the world. Nearly seventy feet in height, each pillar a rocky colossus, resting on a basement twenty-seven feet high, covered with excellent workmanship, a masterpiece of ancient architecture, they tower above the Cyclops wall, and look far away into the distance—giant monuments of the hoary past.

How vast thus temple must originally have been is shewn by the remaining pedestals, from which the pillars have fallen, and lay strewed around in weather-stained fragments. I counted twenty such pedestals along the length of the temple, and ten across its breadth.

The lesser temple, separated from the greater merely by a wall, lies deeper and more sheltered from the wind and weather; consequently it is in better preservation. A covered hall, resting on pillars fifty feet in height, leads round this temple. Statues of gods and heroes, beautifully sculptured in marble, and surrounded by arabesques, deck the lofty arches of this corridor. The pillars consist of three pieces fastened together with such amazing strength, that when the last earthquake threw down a column it did not break, but fell with its top buried in the earth, where it is seen leaning its majestic height against a hill.

From this hall we pass through a splendid portal into the interior of the little sanctuary. An eagle with outspread wings overshadows the upper part of the gate, which is thirty feet in height by twenty in breadth. The two sides are enriched with small figures prettily executed, in a tastefully-carved border of flowers, fruit, ears of corn, and arabesques. This portal is in very good preservation, excepting that the keystone has slipped from its place, and hangs threateningly over the entrance, to the terror of all who pass beneath. But we entered and afterwards returned unhurt, and many will yet pass unharmed like ourselves beneath the loose stone. We shall have returned to dust, while the pendent mass will still see generation after generation roll on.

This lesser temple would not look small by any means, were it not for its colossal neighbour. On one side nine, and on the other six pillars are still erect, besides several pedestals from which the pillars have fallen. Walls, niches, every thing around us, in fact, is of marble, enriched with sculptured work of every kind. The sanctuary of the Sun is separated from the nave of the temple by a row of pillars, most of them prostrate.

To judge from what remains of both these temples, they must originally have been decorated with profuse splendour. The costliest statues and bas-reliefs, sculptured in a stone resembling marble, once filled the niches and halls, and the remains of tasteful ornaments and arabesques bear witness to the luxury which once existed here. The only fault seems to have been a redundancy of decoration.

A subterranean vaulted passage, two hundred and fifty paces in length and thirty in breadth, traverses this temple. In the midst of this walk a colossal head is hewn out of the rocky ceiling representing probably some hero of antiquity. This place is now converted into a stable for horses and camels!

The little brook Litany winds round the foot of the hill on which these ruins stand.

We had been cautioned at Damascus to abstain from wandering alone among these temples; but our interest in all we saw was so great that we forgot the warning and our fears, and hastened to and fro without the least protection. We spent several hours here, exploring every corner, and meeting no one but a few curious inhabitants, who wished to see the newly-arrived Franks. Herr S. even wandered through the ruins at night quite alone, without meeting with an adventure of any kind.

I am almost inclined to think that travellers sometimes detail attacks by robbers, and dangers which they have not experienced, in order to render their narrative more interesting. My journey was a very long one through very dangerous regions; on some occasions I travelled alone with only one Arab servant, and yet nothing serious ever happened to me.

Heliopolis is in such a ruined state, that no estimate can be formed of the pristine size and splendour of this celebrated town. Excepting the two temples of the Sun, and a very small building in their vicinity, built in a circular form and richly covered with sculpture and arabesques, and a few broken pillars, not a trace of the ancient city remains.

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