National Geographic : 1915 May
THE EXPRESSMAN IN CONSTANTINOPLE The porters, or hamals, as they are called, have strongly organized unions, entirely in control of the Kurds, a fierce, untamed race, who in their lands in Asia Minor acknowledge no law except that of might. These hamals, with bent backs, proceed at a stolid, animal-like pace, and carry everything from crates of chickens to upright pianos. -Photos and note by MORTIMER J. Fox. near the truth. He reckons the value or cost of ground, material, labor, orna ments, and church utensils at about 324, ooo,ooo Greek drachmas of today, or about $64,000,000. The common estimate of the cost of Saint Peter's is 240,000,000 francs, or less than $48,000,000. It must be remembered that no other Christian church has at all approached Sancta Sophia in the variety and preciousness of its marbles, and, above all, in the prodigal employment of silver, gold, and precious stones in decoration and for the sacred vessels. The expenditure for Sancta Sophia was doubtless greater than for any other sanctuary ever reared by a Christian people to the glory of their God. It is utterly impossible for us today to picture, even faintly, what that temple must have been as Justinian beheld it. All that the power, the wealth, the art, the skill, and the devotion of the civilized world could create was there; so it might well gleam and stretch away and soar be fore his enraptured gaze. Since then numerous buttresses, great and small, high and low, and buildings of every sort have been piled around it, and muffle and disfigure its form. The light of many windows has been ob structed and many others have been closed. Through Mussulman devotion, the mosaic pictures, though preserved, have been covered over, and the crosses and other Christian emblems defaced.