From an Antique Land: Ancient and Modern in the Middle East

By Julian Huxley | Go to book overview

6
TURKEY: PAST AND PRESENT

CONSTANTINOPLE -- I SHOULD of course write the official name, Istanbul. But I remember being told as a boy at school that Istanbul was merely a corruption of εὶς Τἡν U+03COόλιν -- 'into town', a phrase coined when there was no other city than Constantinople which could have been simply called 'the Town'. Istanbul is the same city as Constantinople; but has never attained such greatness as under its earlier name.

The first -- and the last -- impression of Istanbul is the wonder of the site -- the steep slopes covered with houses, dominated by striking buildings; the waterways in various directions, all busy with shipping, north to the Black Sea, south to the Sea of Marmara and the Mediterranean, and the Golden Horn curving round to its blind end up a side valley: above this last, the col over which in 1453 the Turks dragged their galleys (a portentous feat!) so as to get them inside the great chain the Byzantines had stretched across the straits.

At first the geography of the place is confusing; but the map brings realization. Constantinople proper, the original city, is built on a tongue or rather snout of land, for the area within the great walls bears a strong resemblance to the profile of a dog's head with small prick-cars. This snout sticks out eastward, looking across towards Scutari on the Asiatic side. The Bosporus stretches away a little east of north, and to the south-east lie the fashionable Prince's Islands. Above the imaginary dog's head lies the Golden Horn, debouching at right angles into the Bosporus, and across the Golden Horn

-92-

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From an Antique Land: Ancient and Modern in the Middle East
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Illustrations 7
  • I - Introduction 13
  • 2 - The Land 22
  • 3 - Byblos: Doorway of Many Pasts 31
  • 4 - Baalbek and the Proliferation of Divinity 57
  • 5 - Lebanon: Phoenician Land 67
  • 6 - Turkey: Past and Present 92
  • 7 - Modern Jordan and Ancient Petra 111
  • 8 - Damascus, Port of the Desert 134
  • 9 - Palmyra the Caravan Empire 143
  • 10 - North Syria and Its Dead Cities 159
  • 11 - Baghdad and the Twin Rivers 180
  • 12 - The Birth of Civilization 194
  • 13 - Persia and Its Blue Mosques 214
  • 14 - On the Banks of the Nile 227
  • 15 - Pyramids 238
  • 16 - The Egyptian Past 255
  • 17 - Knossos and the Minoan Civilization 278
  • 18 - And Las 291
  • Index 305
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