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LETTER xxvii           THE CITY OF URMI                         235


UBMI, Oct. 14.

VERY few European travellers visit Urmi and its magni-
ficent plain, the " Paradise of Persia," though it is only
112 miles from Tabriz. Gardens come up to the city walls,
and the plain, about fifty miles long by eighteen broad, is
cultivated throughout, richly wooded, very populous, and
bounded on the east not by a desert with its aridity, but
by the blue waters of the Urmi Sea, and on the west
by the magnificent mountains of Kurdistan. The city is
some miles to the west of the lake.

Urmi is on the whole very pretty and in good repair.
The Christian quarter is almost handsome, well built and
substantial, and the houses are generally faced with red
bricks. The bazars are large and well supplied, and
trade is active. The walls and gateways are in good
repair, and so is the deep ditch, which can be filled with
water, which surrounds them. Every gate is approached
by an avenue of noble elcegnus and other fruit trees. The
gardens within the walls are very fine, and orchards and
vineyards, planes and poplars testify to the abundance
of water and the excellent method of its distribution.
The altitude is stated at 4400 feet. The estimate of the
population varies from 12,000 to 20,000.

Though the Sea of Urmi receives fourteen rivers, some
of them by no means insignificant, and has no known
outlet, it recedes rather steadily, leaving bare a soil of