Basilica Cistern

  • Wednesday 11th 2012

Basilica Cistern, also known as Underwater Palace, is 500 meters west of Hagia Sophia. Built in the Sixth Century by Emperor Justinian. Its purpose was to provide filtered water to the palace of Constantinople and other buildings on the first hill. Even today it provides water for Topkapi Palace. 
It is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters, but at present the water levels are very low. The ceiling is supported by 336 marble columns, each measuring nine meters in height. Walking deeper into the Cistern, the initial WOW impression you get on first entering begins to fade. It’s pleasing to the eye in the beginning, but the longer you stay, the more gloomy it becomes—and the desire to get back into the daylight becomes greater.
Basilica Cistern is also famous for its scene in the 1963 James Bond movie "From Russia with Love"
It’s a nice place to visit to escape from the mid-afternoon heat for half an hour or so.

The 336 columns with a dim light on them

Photo taken with flash.

Medusa head carving sculpted on a column.

 The crowds were crazy about these. I see nothing special apart from a head sculpted in a column.
Nothing more nothing less.

Cistern Cafe selling snacks and drink. 
Photo from the exit stairs.


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