Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Quick Glance of Basilica Cistern

The original plan that day was to visit the Grand Bazaar for jewelry shopping and then enter the grounds of Blue Mosque for some photo op if there's enough time left. Well guess what, we saw a crowd of tourists lining up at the entrance of Basilica Cistern and next thing we knew, we were already inside together with them. While in queue, hubby confessed that he's never been to Basilica Cistern behind the fact that he grew up in Istanbul. In my case, I first heard of this historical place from Anthony Bourdain when he visited the city in one of the episodes of his show called No Reservation.

Moving on, Basilica Cistern is a pretty serene place of columns and rows with dramatic illuminating lights. If you are fascinated with history, you might want to read its details below which I copied from one of the posts therein.


The Basilica Cistern, located in the historical peninsula of Istanbul, is one of the few early architectural examples that have survived till the present age. The glamorous underground cistern was built during the reign of emperor Justinianus in the 6th Century, the age of glory for Eastern Rome.

The Cistern is 140 M long and 70 M wide, and covers a total area of 9,800 sqm. There are 336 marble columns in the cistern. The columns are arranged in 12 rows each consisting of 28 columns.

The capitals of columns are mainly in the iconic Corinthian styles, with the exception of a few Doric style with no engravings.

The Cistern is surrounded by a firebrick wall with a thickness of 4 M and coated with a special mortar for isolation against water.

The Cistern's water was provided from the Belgrade Woods, which lie 19 kilometers north of the city, via aquaducts built by Emperor Justinianus.

The cracks and the columns were repaired in 1968. Having been restored in 1985 by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, the Cistern was once again open to the public on September 9, 1987.

The two Medusa's head found in the northwest corner of the Cistern are the great examples of the Roman Age art sculptures.

The light and color look hot but no 'cos it was just cool and watery in there.

Sorry no decent shot of me. Hubby found it hard to snap a photo against those bright lights.

Click click click. This time, I took a photo of something I don't know. Help anyone?

At one of the corners of Basilica Cistern lies a couple of heads of Medusa.

One of them is positioned upside-down.

Again for history's sake, you may read the caption below that I copied from the Medusa post.


The two Medusa's head found in the northwest corner of the Cistern are the great examples of the Roman Age art sculptures. It is not known exactly where these two heads came from, but there is rumour saying they were brought here after being removed from an antique building of the late Roman period. Another mystery is why one of the Medusa's heads is upside down while the other is tilted to one side. But it is commonly accepted by scientist that they were placed in that way deliberately. If one wants to go deeper in wanting to know more about the history of the mythological rumour of Medusa, one can come across the following story:

It is said that Medusa was one of the three underground Gorgona Giant sisters. Out of these three sisters  only Medusa was mortal and she has the power of transforming people who looked at her into stones. It is said that in the old times the statues and pictures of Medusa were placed in very important buildings and private places to keep the away from bad omens.

In another rumour, Medusa is said to be a girl who was very much proud of her black eyes, long hair and beautiful body. For a long time she was in love with Perseus, the son of Zeus. At the same time goddess Athene was in love with him and she became jealous of Medusa's love with Perseus. For that reason she turned Medusa's beautiful hair into horrible snakes. Then whoever looked at Medusa turned into stone. When Perseus saw that Medusa was bewitched and she was turning people into stone by a mere glance, he cut her head, and won many wars by showing his beloved one's head to enemies. From that time onwards it is said that Byzanthine swords' handles were stylised with Medusa's head.

Basilica Cistern
Alemdar Mah, Şeftali Sokak
No. 6, Fatih, Turkey
Phone:+90 212 522 1259
Open everyday 9 AM to 6:30 PM


  1. Nice photos, sis! But I'm not a fan of museums or anythings old or ancient. My hairs raised seeing the photos especially those of Medusa's. Creepy! Hahaha!

  2. That is certainly a very interesting place to visit! I love the traces of Roman architecture and I would love to know more about the mystery of the medusa heads! :)

    Also, I would love to read about the jewellry market hahaha :D

  3. This is just amazing. I feel I will get goosebumps when I enter there. :)

  4. I love the pillars, it must have been beautiful if this was taken on a broad daylight. For some reasons, Medusa creeps me too. :D

  5. Woah... so that the Basilica Cistern mentioned on Dan Brown's recent book Inferno. Medusa's head was also mentioned there. It's nice to have a glimpse on how it looks like :)

  6. ah so yun pala ang kwento ni medusa... :) medyo creepy nga...

  7. this basilica looks so nice. hope you can post photos on daylight :)

  8. I just read this place as the end point of the book inferno by Dan Brown. Nice to see the photos.

  9. interesting place to visit..and yes it looks like it is very hot in there :)

  10. hmmm what a pretty interesting place ! i would love to see someday

  11. The place looks kinda creepy for me. But, nevertheless, I would want to visit this place too. I'm interested to learn about this country's culture and heritage.


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