Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Istanbul - Basilica Cistern

A fascinating place to visit when you are in Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern. This ancient cistern was built during the reign of Byzantine emperor Justinian in 1532. This is the largest of all cisterns in Istanbul.

This underground chamber is about 9800 sq mts in area with 336 marble columns holding the ceiling. As one descends down the 52 steps into the entrance of the cistern one is met with an eerie red glow reflected from the columns and water which is just a few feet deep and has koi fish in it.
The Medusa column bases located at the far end are not to be missed. These are two columns supported by upside down Medusa heads.
 Another interesting column that you will not miss inside the cistern is the 'Teardrop column'. This is located in the centre of the cistern
The one hour that I spent inside the cistern was certainly a most interesting and educative one. Be sure to hire headphones with the taped running commentary to guide you through the cistern. There is a small fee to enter the cistern.
The Basilica Cistern is a close 150 metres from Hagia Sophia and equally close to the Blue Mosque.
Visited in August 2013

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