« AnteriorContinua »
A little nearer the bottom of the port is an old Venetian gate, which once shut the Marina in at night while the custom-house guard slept, and over the keystone of which the Lion of St. Mark's still turns his mutilated head to the sea.
On the whole, the look of the thing was not unpicturesque, except for the hopeless whiteness and shabbiness of the principal architectural features, and especially the "Konak” (palace), which was, beyond all disguise of light or circumstance, an eyesore and a nuisance, the more so that its foundations were fine old brown stone masonry, delicious in color, solid, and showing at one end a pointed arched vault, with its portward end fallen down to show the interior, and crowned with an enormous mass of cactus. On the south side, invisible from the port, are three fine Gothic windows, now filled up, but preserving the traceries. The palace could scarcely have had a nobler site, or the site a more ignoble occupancy.
Too late for pratique, we had nothing to do but turn in early, and get ready to go ashore at sunrise.
Once landed, I began to wish that the comparison I had drawn for the Konak was a more just one, and that inside its card-board classicalism could be found the slightest approach to American hospitality.. Not an inn of any kind exists in Canea a dirty, dingy restaurant, which called itself "The GuestHouse of the Spheres," offered one small bedroom, which the filth of the place, with its suggestions of bugs and fleas, forbade the title of a sleepingroom. While the yacht stayed I had a bed; but after that it was a dreary prospect for a man who had intended living at his ease in his inn the rest of the summer. And here let me, once for all, give due credit to Crete, and say that, though there is not from one end of the island to the other an inn, the stranger will never wait long, even in the smallest village, to know where he may sleep, and will rarely find a greater difficulty than to reconcile the rival claims to the honor of his presence.
In my case, I had no greatly prolonged anxiety, and accepted the proffered hospitality of Mr. Alexis, then ViceConsul of the United States of America, and now Dutch Consul, to whom most of the few travellers in Crete are more or less under obligations.
I thoroughly enjoyed some days of careless loafing about Canea. I have intimated my slight experience of Turkish towns; and if the critic should think it worth while to remark that I should have seen Constantinople and Cairo, Smyrna and Salonica, before attempting to describe one, I admit the justice of the criticism, and pass over readily all that is Turkish in Canea, the more that it is mainly of negative or destructive character. What remains of interest in Canea is Venetian, though of that there is almost nothing which represents the great period of the sea-republic, except the fine, and in most parts wellconditioned walls. Here and there a double-arched window, with a bit of fine carving in the capitals, peeps out from the jutting uglinesses of seraglio windows, close latticed and mysterious; one or two fine doorways, neglected and battered as to their ornamentation, some coats of arms, three or four arched gateways, and as many fountains, are all that will catch the eye of the artist inside the walls, unless it be the port, with its quaint and picturesque boats of antique pattern.
Canea had its west-end in what is now known as the Castelli, the slight elevation on which, most probably, the ancient city was built, and on which stood the Venetian citadel, and the aristocratic quarter, enclosed and gated with an interior wall, whose circuit may still be traced in occasional glimpses of the brown stone above and between the Turkish houses. The Castelli of to-day is the principal street of this quarter, running through its centre, and guarded by the gates whose arches remain, valueless and without portcullis, but showing in their present state how strong a defence was needed to assure the patricians in their slumbers against any importu
nate attempts of their malcontent sub jects and fellow-townsmen to clear off the score which the infamous government of the Republic accumulated. One doorway in this street struck me particularly, from the exquisite orna mentation of its stone doorway; but the palace to which it opened is abandoned, and in ruins. Most of the better class of these houses are in the same state, modern repair being only a shabby patching up and whitewashing. The quarter is inhabited almost entirely by Mussulmans; and, though habitable houses are greatly in demand in the business parts of Canea, and many of these old palaces could be made available at a small cost, their owners have so little energy, or so great an aversion to new-comers and Christians, that none of them are put under repairs,
On the walls of the city are many old bronze guns of both Venetian and Turkish manufacture. The former still bear the Lion of St. Mark's, and one long nine-pounder is exquisitely ornamented with a reticulation of vines cast in relief over the whole length of it. It bears the name of Albergetti, its founder. The only modern guns I saw were half a dozen heavy cast-iron thirty-two-pounders of Liege, and a few light bronze guns on the battery commanding the entrance of the harbor. The whole circuit of the walls is still furnished with the ancient bronze guns, of which several are of about twelve-inch calibre, with their stone balls still lying by them.
The harbor of Canea approximates in form to a clumsy L, the bottom of the letter forming the basin in the centre of which our yacht was moored, with a longer recess running eastward, from the entrance, and divided from the open sea only by a reef on which the mole is built, following the direction, of the coast at this part of the island. The narrow, entrance is at the exterior, angle of the L, between the water-battery and the lighthouse; and in the interior angle are the Castelli, Konak, &c. Along the inner side of the east ern recess, and across its extremity, is
a line of galley-houses, the penitential offering, it is said, of a patrician exiled here, to purchase his repatriation, Earthquakes have rent their walls, de cay has followed disuse, for the harbor has now become so filled up that only a small boat can get into the furthermost of the arches, and the greater part of the galley-houses have dry land out to their entrances, and the ship-yard of to-day is in the vacant space left by the fall of two or three of them.
As might be expected, Canea is a very dull city. Out of the highway of Eastern trade or travel, whoever visits it must do so for itself alone, for the arts of amusing idlers and luring trave ellers are unknown to it. The only amusements for summer are a nargile on the Marina, studying primitive civilization the while, during the twilight hours, and the afternoon circuit of the ramparts, where every day at five o'clock an execrable band tortures the most familiar arias with clangor of discordant brass, From the ramparts we overlooked the plain, bounded by Mount, Malaxa, above which loomed the Aspravouna, showing late in summer strips of snow in the ravines that furrowed, the bare crystalline peaks, brown and gray and parched with the drought of three months. The Cretan summer runs rainless from June to October; and the only relief to the aridity of the landscape is formed by the olive-orchards, covering, nearly the whole expanse bej tween the sea sands and the treeless, ridge of Malaxa with so luxuriant a green, that, accustomed to the olive of Italy, I could scarcely believe these to be the same trees. This I at first sup‐ posed to be owing to some peculiarity of the plain, but subsequently found it, to be characteristic of the Cretan olive;; and I remember heating Captain Brine; of the Racer express the same surprise; I myself felt on first seeing the olive here. The trees are like river-side wil lows in early summer.
To get a clear comprehension of the position of Canca and the ancient ad vantages of Cydonia, its local prede cessor, and at the same time of the
whole northwestern district of Crete, one must ascend the hills of the Akroteri, at least the first ridge, from which the view is superb. The Aspravouna towers higher: we look into the gorges of the Malaxa ridge, and up the ravine of Theriso, to the mountains about Laki, an immemorial strong-hold of the Cretans, behind which, a sure and impregnable refuge to brave men, is the great plain of Omalos. Farther on are the hills of Selinos and Kisamos, sending off northward two long parallel ridges of considerable altitude, the peninsula of Grabusa, the ancient Corycus, the western land of Crete, and, from where we look, visible in portions above the nearer ridge of Cape Spada, the Dictynnian peninsula, which divides the plain of Cydonia from that of Kisamon and Polyrrhenia, and, but for the glimpses of Corycus above it, shutting in our view, as it bounds the territory dependent on the ancient city.
No site in Crete is more distinctly recognizable from the indications of the ancient geographers than Cydonia. It had "a port with shoals outside," and from this elevation one looks directly down the longer fork of the harbor, and can see how the mole is built on a black reef, whose detached masses extend from the lighthouse eastward to the corner of the city wall, which is built out to meet it, and then descends to the mole, with which it is continuous. Beyond the entrance of the harbor, the reef again appears, gradually nearing the shore; and beyond this, as far as the eye can reach, are no rocks, -no other nook where a galley could have taken refuge.
How the hearts of the Pelasgian wanderers must have bounded when their exploring prows pushed into this nook, which offered them shelter from all winds that blow! It was a site to gladden the eyes of those builders of cities. Up above them, the bluff rock waiting for the layers of huge stones, the eastern nook of the port more perfectly protected than the southern, which receives more or less the swell from the northerly winds, and whose
inner shore of hard sand tempted the weary keels,-while all around stretched a wide, fertile, and then probably forest-clad plain, doubtless abounding in the stags for which the district was long famous. Here the restless race "located," and seem to have prospered in the days of those brave men who lived before Agamemnon, to whom and to whose allies in the Trojan war they seem to have given much the same trouble that their reputed descendants, the Sphakiotes, did to the Cretan Assembly of 1866, not being either then or now over-devoted to Panhellenism, though never averse to a comfortable fight.
Pashley quotes a Latin author to show that Cydonia was one of the most ancient, if not the most ancient, of Cretan cities, - -"Cnossus and Erythræa, and, as the Greeks say, Cydonia, mother of cities." The alleged foundation of the city by Agamemnon was clearly, if anything, only a revival of the more ancient city; and after him successive colonizations rolled their waves in on this beautiful shore, obedient to its irresistible attraction. Dorian, Samiote, Roman, followed, adding new blood, and perhaps new wealth; and when finally, in the degradation of the Byzantine empire, Venice took possession of Crete, Cydonia had so far passed into insignificance, that, "seeking a place to build a fortress to quell the turbulent Greeks," she refounded Cydonia, and called it Canea, — an evident corruption of the old name. With all this building and rebuilding, nothing remains of the ancient city. A mass of masonry near the Mussulman cemetery, which Chevalier in 1699 saw covered with a mosaic pavement, is still visible, but is Roman work, rubble and mortar. As Pashley says, the modern walls of Canea would have been sufficient to consume all vestiges of the ancient building. The citations he gives ought to put at rest all question of the identity of Canea with Cydonia, and we shall presently see the only serious objection which has been raised against it disappear under an examina
tion of the geological character of the plain.*
Looking from our hill-top southwestwardly across the plain, the eye is carried between two low ranges of hills into a valley which seems a continuation of this plain. Here runs the Iardanos, along which, according to Homer, the Cydonians dwelt. But it is now in no point of its course nearer than ten miles to Canea. This discrepancy troubled the early travellers, who were finally inclined to solve the riddle by supposing Cydonia to have been a district, and not a city merely. But study the plain a little, or Spratt's chart of it, and we shall see that from that far-off river-bed an almost unbroken and very gentle inclination leads through the plain, by the rear of the city, to the bay of Suda, a considerable ridge rising between it and the sea.
Suppose the mountains reclothed with forests, the hillsides pierced with perennial springs, and the flowing of the waters, not, as now, fitful and impetuous, but copious and constant. Then dam up the narrow opening the river has cut through the coast line of hills, in its direct course from the mountains to the sea, with a smaller and similar one cut by a stream coming down from Theriso, and you have the whole water sheet of the north side of the Aspravouna emptying into the bay of Suda. In this supposed route of the Iardanos (now the Platanos), just where it commences its cutting through the hills, is a large marsh, the remnant of what was once a lake of a mile or more in width, when the Iardanos, then a gentle, bounteous river, turned from its present course to run eastward, and deposit its washings where they made
* As I shall have constant occasion to draw from Pashley information and quotations which my own classical reading, time, and library facilities do not permit me even to verify, I shall, once for all, confess indebtedness for almost all the classical knowledge I possess of the island, as well as for almost all the topographical information and direction in my visits to antique sites, to either him or Spratt, without whose invaluable researches the half of Crete would still be in a measure terra incognita. What I hope to add to the knowledge of Crete will be in a different vein from theirs.
the marshes of Tuzla, and the shallows at the head of Suda Bay. Civilization, ship-building, commerce, carried away the forests; and, thus changed into a furious mountain torrent, three months a roaring flood which no bridge can stride, and the rest of the year almost a dry pebbled bed, the Iardanos made a straight cut for the sea, drained its lake, forgot its old courses, and changed, in time, its name; and so it happens that the Cydonians no longer dwell along the Iardanos.
While we are on our look-out, let us try to study out another puzzle, which even Spratt left in doubt, i. e. the site of Pergamos. We know that it was near both Cydonia and Achaia, and Spratt pretty conclusively fixes the latter on the Dictynnian peninsula ; so that it must have been in our
present field of view. Looking this over, we can see but one point of land which offers the indispensable requisites for a city of the heroic ages, and that is the site of the modern Platania, midway between Canea and the peninsula, a bold hill with a nearly perpendicular face to the north and east, and so abrupt on the west as to be easily fortified, and connected with the hills on the south by a narrow neck of hill,-such a site, in fact, as any one familiar with Pelasgic remains would seek at once in a country where any such remains existed. The fact that no remains exist to show that an ancient city stood here proves no more than at Canea; while the fact that none of the possible sites in the neighborhood show any such remains is conclusive against them, as no modern cities are there to consume the ancient masonry. In our researches in the island, we shall almost invariably find that, where there are remains of ancient cities, there is no modern town, and that, where a modern town stands on an ancient site determined, there are few, if any, antique vestiges. The reason is evident, the ruins serve as quarry. The change of name even proves more for our hypothesis than * Consult Marsh's "Man and Nature."
against it. The plane-tree was not in ancient times so rare in the island as now, and would hardly have then given a name to a city, while now it not only names Platania, but the river even, a grove of plane-trees occupying the valley between the city and the mouth of the river. The probability is, then, that the names of both are synchronous; and it would be useless to look for any Platania in ancient times, or any vestige of the name "Pergamos in modern times, while, if the ancient city stood on a site now abandoned, we should in all probability find both ruins and name to indicate the locality.
The conjecture of Spratt, that Pergamos was near Pyrgos Pori is only a conjecture, Pyrgos being too common a name for any strongly situated village or ruin to have any significance. A city at that locality would, moreover, have been cut off from all sea approach by the Iardanos in its ancient course; and as Pergamos was one of those cities founded by the wanderers from Troy, either, they say, by Agamemnon or Æneas, it would probably not have been founded on an inland site, or even on a river navigable, as the Iardanos must have been, for small craft, the access to which would be commanded by Aptera, Minoa, and Cydonia. So far as conjecture goes, it seems to me much more likely that Hagia Irenewhich Spratt supposes the ancient city-was Achaia, the location of which he avoids by supposing it a district, rather than a city, forgetting that in those days no one dwelt outside of city walls. My hypothesis, coupled with that of the identity of Platania with Pergamos, would satisfy all the exigencies of the case, which that of neither Spratt nor Pashley does. For the rest, Pergamos is mainly interesting as the burial-place of Lycurgus.
From our point of view on the Akroteri, we see the whole domain of Cydonia, as at our left Suda Bay terminates the view, (on the first plateau eastward of the bay Aptera presided,) while the Dictynnian hills divide
Almost at the foot of the ridge where we stand is a beautiful example of a Venetian fortified country-house, — a little castle, turreted and loop-holed, with a drawbridge thrown from a tower rising opposite the doorway, and still in excellent preservation. Other similar houses may be seen, but I have nowhere in the island found one so fine as this. At the farther edge of the plain, lying along under the hills, is a succession of white villages, — Zukalaria, Nerokouro (running water), Murnies, celebrated for its oranges and the brutal and gratuitous massacre by Mustapha Pacha (late Imperial Commissioner), in 1833, Boutzounaria (dripping water), first place of assembling of the Cretan malcontents in 1866, Perivolia, Galatas, Hagia Marina, and Platania, by the sea.
Off Platania is the island of St. Theodore, whose fortress, defended by the Venetian mercenaries against the Turks, showed one of those examples of heroic constancy we so generally and erroneously attribute to patriotic courage; for, defying the enemy to the last, the garrison defended the castle until the Turks had stormed and filled it with their numbers, and then blew it up, destroying every one within the walls. The foundations still remain, but level with the cemented floor; everything is razed cleanly, while the fragments lie along the slopes like the ejections of a volcano.
Midway between the Akroteri and Canea lies Kalepa, a suburb where most of the foreign consuls reside in summer, with many of the wealthier Khaniotes, and the only place in the vicinity where the summer can be passed in comfort. A few houses are