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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Gertrude Bell
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1 entry, paper

Thurs 25. [25 May 1905] Off to Stamboul early and saw churches.
Began with St Irene which one cannot enter because it is an arsenal.
Kuppel basilica. Very plain outside as I think they must all have been.
Imperial porphyry sarcophagi before the E. front. Then to S. Sergius
and Bacchus which is remarkably interesting. Narthex gone but one
can see the Atrium. It is inside almost precisely the plan of S Vitale. A
long inscription runs round it which the Turk has carefully preserved
and picked out in white and blue wash. Then to Mehmed Pasha Jami
which they say is S. Anastasia - one has to take it with the eye of faith.
I made a little plan of it in my Murray, it may be a K. basilica. Good
tiles. So off to Badrum Jami of which the outside looked interesting
but I cd not get in owing to its being shut. It's 10th cent however so it
doesn't much matter. So back to the bazaars where I lunched at a
Greek restaurant. Then to S. Mary Diaconissa (Kalender Khaneh
Jami) which is very interesting with remains of the marble panelling in
the apse and against the E walls. It is the usual 4 square shape with a
narthex. Above the arches between the apse and the S and N
corners there are chambers arched in their turn making 2 stories [sic]
on either side of the apse. So to S. Theodore Tyrone which has a
very pretty arrangement of apses, 2 to each aisle and a charming
niched Eastern outside. It has 2 narthexes and a very good W door in
the second narthex with an arrangement of windows at either side and
relieving arch over the door which is most effective. The W. face is
highly decorated - has carved panels. Here I found a friendly
group[?] who took me to Kirk Klisse and so up to the big triple[?]
church S. Saviour Pantocrater. In the S church the panelling of the
apse is almost perfect. So home by Kaik to the bridge. Called on Mrs
Block but she was out. Last night I saw a fire. It was somewhere down
by Eyyub but though it was quite far away, I could see the flames
leaping up and if it hadn't been for the band in the garden below I cd
almost have heard them. The people sitting in the garden paid no
attention, though presently men came riding up the street and the
strange fire appliances of the Turks began to pass. First a lot of men
in sort of football clothes, bare legs, knickerbockers to the knee and
jerseys carrying something that looked rather like an ice machine,
then 2 fire engines at a foot's pace with the same men walking before
and behind and then more men struggling after. The flames lept [sic]
up and the smoke stretched half across the sky. I thought what it must
have been like when Muhammad the Conqueror set the city ablaze.

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