Photographs in Words 14 – Europe 2/4

T looked at the photograph. It must have been taken at some time in the 1890s, close by the bench where he was sitting. An oldish man with a dog, holding a walking stick and wearing a flat cap was standing, facing the opposite coast. T looked carefully in the same direction as the man in the photograph. He noticed Yuşa Tepesi (Hill of Joshua) and the castle to its north. He had been looking in that direction before, but without seeing them.

The next day he took the first boat across to Anadolu Kavağı. At the back of the lower deck were two women, their faces turned away from him, looking silently at the sea. The woman in blue was holding a small black box. Halfway through the journey, she opened it slowly, emptying it gently into the white foam churned by the propeller. No-one spoke.

From Anadolu Kavağı, he took a bus to Yuşa Tepesi, where he joined the people walking around the seventeen-meter-long grave next to the small, elegant mosque. He read the inscription in the yard:

“ Yuşa Tepesi is the highest hill in the Bosphorus… It has been regarded as a holy place for many centuries and different and many civilisations have built temples here. During the Ottoman period…a small mosque was built here in 1755 by Grand Vizier Yirmisekiz Çelebizade Mehmet Sait Pasha…The ancient belief that ‘giants’ were living at the top of mountains may have played a part in making the grave so long, for one of the names of this hill was ‘Giant’s Mountain…”

T discovered  that the stones on the hillside below were the remains of a Byzantine church.

Gazing across the sea to the opposite coast, he spotted where the man in the photograph had been standing.

Back in Anadolu Kavağı, he walked up the steep hill to Yoros Castle. Still visible on its walls, were elegant cross designs, letters and figures.

Only from  here one could look upon such a magnificent view of the Bosphorus  opening out onto the distant Black Sea.

Returning to the coast, he called in at the tourist gift shop, where most of the customers were from Europe. He talked with the woman serving there. She was reading  a section a day of a very large Quran, laid open on the counter.

Passing by the Mosque of Midillili Ali Reis, he heard voices. Three people, alone in the mosque, were chanting prayers together. Their voices were beautiful, touching. He lingered to listen to them.

As he was returning to the opposite coast on the last boat , the sun set.

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