CONSTANTINOPLE, as every schoolboy - knows, is the capital of the Turkish Empire, and is situated on the Bosporus, a strait of water joining the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmora, while at the same time it separates the two great continents, Europe and Asia. This wonderful old city has a most beautiful situation. Like ancient Rome, it is built on seven hills, and gives a fine view of the Bosporus, the Black Sea, and the Sea of Marmora. 

To the traveler sailing up the Bosporus, the city appears in all its glory, especially if the morning sun strikes its hundreds of domes and minarets rising out of the groves of dark green cypresses, where the Turks bury their dead. But if one wishes to retain his first pleasant impressions of Constantinople, he would do well not to land at all, but rather drift slowly up and down the Bosporus, beholding and admiring afar off, and then sail away just as the last light of day gilds the domes and minarets with its parting splendor. 

Probably in no city in the world are extravagance and luxury so strangely blended with wretchedness and squalor as in Constantinople. "Here gold appears by the side of rags, and the most wretched poverty crouches under the walls of splendid palaces."  Thus the city may be described as mean or magnificent, and either be true, according as we look at one extreme or the other. The streets are mostly "narrow, dark, and dirty, and are overhung with miserable houses, while from little shops turbaned figures peer out upon you, and women, closely veiled, glide swiftly by. The pavement is of the rudest kind, of rough, sharp stones, between which one sinks in the mud." 

These Turks have a great deal of money and many treasures, but they have strange ideas of the use to which they are to be put. There are few really fine buildings in the city, except mosques and the palaces of the sultan; but these, especially in the inside, are costly and extravagant almost beyond description. The treasure-room in the Seraglio, a deserted palace of the sultan, is said to be the richest in the world. In the center stands a Persian throne, which is covered with rubies, pearls, emeralds, and diamonds; there are toilet-tables covered to the feet with diamonds; old armor thickly set with precious stones; saddle-cloth and stirrups stiff with diamonds and emeralds; and robes embroidered with pearls. Nothing seems so cheap as wealth lavished in this manner; and those who have visited the place say that although they are at first dazzled by the sight, after a time these heaps of gems become as common in their eyes as pebbles in the street; and they come away with a hearty contempt for earthly treasure. 

There are many mosques in Constantinople, but that of St. Sophia is the most important as well as the most interesting. This was first built' in the fourth century, by Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of Rome, and dedicated by him as the Church of Divine Wisdom. It was twice destroyed by fire, the last time in the reign of the Emperor Justinian, some two hundred years after it was first built; but the church was immediately restored by him to more than its former splendor. 

The first stone was laid in the year 532. No fewer than 10,000 workmen were employed upon it under the directions of 100 master-builders; and when it was done, it had cost the emperor about 5,000,000 dollars. The principal material of the walls was brick, but the whole interior was lined with costly marbles of every variety and color; and to add to its splendors, columns and statuary were brought from the Temple of Diana, at Ephesus; from the Temple of Minerva, on the Acropolis at Athens; from Baalbec, Heliopolis, and other ancient cities. Men were sent over seas and across continents to gather treasures to enrich and beautify this great edifice. We read of doors of cedar, amber, and ivory; of hundreds of wrought golden candlesticks, and crosses each of a hundred pounds weight; of a score of books of the Evangelists, the gold covers of which weighed twenty pounds; of golden lilies and golden trumpets; of forty-two thousand chalice-cloths embroidered with pearls and jewels ; and of the great altar,—for which gold was too cheap a material and so it was made a mass of the most precious and costly stones imbedded in gold and silver. 

It was Justinian's wish to pave the floor with gold, but he feared the avarice of his successors, and so laid it in variegated marbles, which run in waving lines, representing the flowing of rivers. But the wonder of the building was the central dine, one hundred seven feet across, and hanging in the air one hundred eighty feet above the pavement. It was built of pumice stone, because with the immense size of the dome, any heavier stone would have crushed in the building. 

When this Church of Santa Sophia was finished, and Justinian came in to view his great work, he is said to have run from the porticoes to the pulpit with out-stretched arms, crying, "Solomon, I have surpassed thee!" 

It was then doubtless the most magnificently decorated temple that had ever stood on the earth. It is now about four hundred twenty-five years since the Turks conquered Constantinople, and the terrible Mohammed II., mounted on horseback and sword in hand, rode through the high door of St. Sophia, and gave orders to slay the thousands who had taken refuge within those sacred walls. "Then Christian blood overflowed that marble pavement 'like a sea, as men and women and helpless children were trampled down beneath the heels of the cruel invaders. The first act of these usurpers was to destroy every trace of its Christian use; to take away the vessels of the sanctuary, as of old they were taken from the temple at Jerusalem; to cover up the beautiful mosaics in the ceilings and on the walls, that for so many centuries had looked down on Christian worshipers." 'Wherever the sign of the cross had been carved in the marble, it was chiseled away; but the foundation of the building itself had been laid in the form of a cross, and this they could not change, except by putting on additions in such a way as to hide the original shape of the building. They also added the tall minarets on the four corners, as seen in the accompanying picture. The venerable temple is still in  the hands of those who despise the name of Christ; but had the money spent by Justinian in its useless ornamentation, been devoted to spreading among his subjects a knowledge of true Christian principles, the kingdom might never have become so weakened as to be conquered by these Mohammedans, and thus the walls dedicated to the service of God have been desecrated by heathen worship. 

E. B. G.