Monday, April 25, 2011

Touring Turkey - Medusa & Mood Lighting at the Basilica Cistern

I wasn't really sure what I would see when I visited the Basilica Cistern aka the Yerebatan Sarayi. I read about it in my guidebook, but it didn't really hint that it would look a little something like this:

A major underground structure built during the 6th century (it's OLD) under a former spot for commerce and art in Roman times that now has some serious mood lighting.

Cisterns are supposed to trap and hold water. This one is 105,000 square feet (9,800 square meters) large and at one point held 2, 800,000 cubic feet (80,000 cubic meters) of water for Istanbul. It makes sense since it was near Topkapi Palace and so much of the major mosques and public areas of the old city.

Now you stroll through it, or use it as one big fountain.

Lots of coins in the water

Vaulted ceilings

I also want to say that for a cistern, there is some super random stuff down there. A column with what are commonly called Nazars. They are a form of good luck in many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures used to ward off evil/the evil eye or gaze. I guess you need that type of protection underground?

A Medusa head... 'cause I totally associate cisterns with Medusa? No one knows exactly why this is even here, by the way.

Medusa upside down

Medusa on her side


The Basilica Cistern is not what I expected but by far the most out of the ordinary place to visit next to all of the major sites in Istanbul's old city.


BigAppleNosh said...

Wow, that first photos is just breathtaking!

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Keep these pics coming! I love them!!!

lavenderpug said...

wow, that's amazing. i can't even conceive how much water that would have been.

Diana said...

This looks like an amazing place, something from a storybook or a movie and you got to see it in person! WOW! It must have felt so magical and emotional to be there in person. :)


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