248 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
The town, which is about three-quarters of a mile long, is built on the water-shed in the
narrowest part of the valley, where it is eighteen hundred and seventy-seven feet above the
level of the sea, and only one hundred yards wide. It is said that there are no less than
eighty springs of water in and about Nablus, each having its special name. The water is
conveyed from these springs to the mosques and other public buildings and to private
houses, and then irrigates the gardens in and around the city. Many of the streets have
little channels of clear water running through them. After being thus utilised, the streams
on the western side of the city are allowed to unite and form a stream which turns several
mills and flows towards the Mediterranean; those on the eastern side irrigate the gardens east
of the town, and then, with a rather abrupt fall, flow towards the river Jordan.
There are no very ancient buildings in Nablus, and scarcely anything remains to remind
us of the " New City " of Flavius but the mutilated vestige of its name. The Crusaders,
however, have left several memorials of their influence here. We at once recognise their
work in the facade of the principal mosque, which was originally a church dedicated to
St. John. It is at the eastern end of the city, and is called Jamia el Kebir (the Great
Mosque). The chief entrance consists of a deeply recessed pointed arch resting on short
columns, five on each side, with foliated and varied capitals (see page 245). In the central
court there are several ancient columns of Egyptian granite.
From this point we enter the bazaars, which are better built and kept in better order than
those of Jerusalem. Those, however, in which vegetables and prepared food are sold are rather
difficult to traverse during certain hours of the day. Turkish soldiers hurry by, some of
them carrying large metal dishes containing a melange of chopped vegetables, or deep
earthenware plates filled with stiff cold pottage made of peas or beans and garnished with
slices of lemon floating in oil; others push their way through the crowd with bowls of
steaming soup held at arm's length before them, which very effectually clears the way.
There are small arcades especially devoted to the sale of tobacco, others which are filled
with the refreshing odour of green lemons, oranges, citrons, and shaddocks. The long narrow
bazaar, where dried fruits, olives, rice, cheese, and butter are sold, leads to another Christian
church of the twelfth century, now converted into a mosque called Jamia el Nisr, the Mosque
of the Eagle. Here also are some ancient granite columns. Making a detour through a
street almost blocked up with camels, we pass into the principal bazaar, the finest arcade in
Palestine. Here European goods are displayed, such as Manchester cottons, printed calicoes,
Sheffield cutlery, Bohemian glasses for narghilehs, and crockery and trinkets of all kinds from
Marseilles. But the brightest shops are those in which Damascus and Aleppo silks,
embroidered jackets, and crimson tarbushes appear, with stores of Turkish pipes, and amber
rosaries from Stamboul, and glass bracelets from Hebron. An opening in this arcade leads
into the old khan on the north side of the city, the Khan of the Merchants (Khan Tujjar).
It consists of an extensive square space enclosed by a two-storied range of buildings. A stone
stairway leads to the terraced roof, from whence there is an interesting view in every direction.