The mosque of Sultan Achmed, on the Hippodrome, is surrounded by six minarets. Most of the others have only two, and some few four.
The kitchens for the poor, situated in the immediate neighbourhood of the mosques, are a very praiseworthy institution. Here the poor Mussulman is regaled on simple dishes, such as rice, beans, cucumbers, etc., at the public expense. I marvelled greatly to find no crowding at these places. Another and an equally useful measure is the erection of numerous fountains of clear good water. This is the more welcome when we remember that the Turkish religion forbids the use of all spirituous liquors. At many of these fountains servants are stationed, whose only duty is to keep ten or twelve goblets of shining brass constantly filled with this refreshing nectar, and to offer them to every passer-by, be he Turk or Frank. Beer-houses and wine-shops are not to be found here. Would to Heaven this were every where the case! How many a poor wretch would never have been poor, and how many a madman would never have lost his senses!
Not far from the Osmanije mosque is the
I entered it with a beating heart, and already before I had even seen them, pitied the poor slaves. How glad, therefore, was I when I found them not half so forlorn and neglected as we Europeans are accustomed to imagine! I saw around me friendly smiling faces, from the grimaces and contortions of which I could easily discover that their owners were making quizzical remarks on every passing stranger.
The market is a great yard, surrounded by rooms, in which the slaves live. By day they may walk about in the yard, pay one another visits, and chatter as much as they please.
In a market of this kind we, of course, see every gradation of colour, from light brown to the deepest black. The white slaves, and the most beautiful of the blacks, are not however to be seen by every stranger, but are shut up in the dwellings of the traffickers in human flesh. The dress of these people is simple in the extreme. They either wear only a large linen sheet, which is wrapped round them, or some light garment. Even this they are obliged to take off when a purchaser appears. So long as they are in the hands of the dealers, they are certainly not kept in very good style; so they all look forward with great joy to the prospect of getting a master. When they are once purchased, their fate is generally far from hard. They always adopt the religion of their master, are not overburdened with work, are well clothed and fed, and kindly treated. Europeans also purchase slaves, but may not look upon them and treat them as such; from the moment when a slave is purchased by a Frank he becomes free. Slaves bought in this way, however, generally stay with their masters.