I wander through the narrow passages and quickly lose my sense of direction. The limestone buildings are completely closed off from the outside world. They seem built to last forever. My presence, in turn, excites nothing more than an occasional passing glance. A young boy squats in a window framed with stone blocks. The framing is nearly perfect, as if he were a painting. I hear the ezan, the call to prayer. Here and there a church tower is visible. Behind the walls, I sense courtyards with small irrigated gardens. A few dozen pigeons perch on the dome of a mosque. Many of the surfaces are decorated with designs — some purely geometric, others that suggest plants, animals, or drops of water. Arabic lettering on doors and ceramic signs, heavy wrought-iron door handles; Archways laden with complex ornaments.  One of them shows Şahmaran, queen of the snakes. She has the… More…