The Sultan’s Organ – A Four Hundred Years Old Travel Blog – John Mole
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If you’re interested in Greece, Turkey, the Elizabethans, the Ottomans, early music, organs, clocks, or just a wonderful traveller’s tale, The Sultan’s Organ is a fascinating read.
In 1599 Queen Elizabeth I sent a gift to Sultan Mehmet III of Turkey. It was a self-playing organ that could perform continuously for six hours combined with a musical clock with jewel-encrusted moving figures. It was built by Thomas Dallam, aged twenty five years. He took the instrument to Constantinople on an armed merchant ship. It took six months, calling at Algiers, Zakynthos, Rhodes, and Chios. On his way back Dallam made the first recorded crossing of the Greek mainland, from Volos across Parnassus to Patras. He encountered storms, exotic animals, pirates, brigands, Moors, Turks, Greeks, Jews, kings and pashas, janissaries, eunuchs, slaves, dwarves and finally the most powerful man in the known world, the Great Turk himself.
Dallam kept a diary. John Mole was so enthralled he put it into modern English and it reads as though its Elizabethan author was alive today.
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