A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 377 pages of information about A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy.

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

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A Visit to the Holy Land, Egypt, and Italy from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.