Of the Navigation from Venice to Alexandria in Egypt, and from thence to Damascus in Syria.
Should any one wish to know the cause of my engaging in this voyage, I can give no better reason than the ardent desire of knowledge, which hath moved me and many others to see the world and the wonders of creation which it exhibits. And, as other known parts of the world had been already sufficiently travelled over by others, I was determined to wait and describe such parts as were not sufficiently known. For which reason, with the grace of God, and calling upon his holy name to prosper our enterprise, we departed from Venice, and with prosperous winds we arrived in few days at the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The desire we had to know things more strange and farther off, did not permit us to remain long at that place; wherefore, sailing up the river Nile, we came to the city of new Babylon, commonly called Cayrus or Akayr, Cairo or Al-cahira, called also Memphis in ancient times.
[Footnote 34: To accommodate this curious article to our mode of arrangement, we have made a slight alteration of the nomenclature of its subdivisions; calling those in this version Sections, which in the original translation of Mr Eden are denominated chapters; and have used the farther freedom of sometimes throwing several of these chapters into one section.—E.]
On my first arrival at this place I was more astonished than I can well express, yet on a more intimate observation it seemed much inferior to the report of its fame, as in extent it seemed not larger than Rome, though much more populous. But many have been deceived in regard to its size by the extensive suburbs, which are in reality numerous dispersed villages with fields interspersed, which some persons have thought to belong to the city, though they are from two to three miles distant, and surround it on all sides. It is not needful to expatiate in this place on the manners and religion of this city and its environs, as it is well known that the inhabitants are Mahometans and Mamelukes; these last being Christians who have forsaken the true faith to serve the Turks and Mahometans. Those of that description who used to serve the Soldan of Babylon in Egypt, or Cairo, in former times before the Turkish conquest, used to be called Mamelukes, while such of them as served the Turks were denominated Jenetzari or Janisaries. The Mameluke Mahometans are subject to the Soldan of Syria.