Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Saray, Istanbul

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  • AcornMan's Profile Photo

    Bascilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi) part 2

    by AcornMan Written May 1, 2004

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    The cistern's roof is held up by 336 columns, each over 26 feet high. Two columns rest on Medusa head bases in a corner of the cistern. The heads were plundered by the Byzantines from earlier monuments are are thought to mark a nymphaeum (a shrine to the water nymphs).

    Medusa head base

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  • AcornMan's Profile Photo

    Bascilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)

    by AcornMan Updated May 1, 2004

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    Built during the rule of the Byzantine Empire under Emperor Justinian in the 6th Century AD, the Bascilica Cistern was created mainly to satisfy the growing demands of the Great Palace situated on the opposite side of the Hippodrome.

    For a century after their conquest of the city in 1453, the Ottomans remained oblivious to the existence of the cistern and rediscovered it only after local residents were seen collecting water and even fish by lowering buckets through holes in their basements. Even today there are fish swimming around in the shallow water.

    Interior of Bascilica Cistern

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    Yerebatan Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)

    by Paul2001 Written Mar 11, 2004

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    If you have just visited the Agia Sofia, your next destination should be the Yerebatan Cistern. This located virtually across the street. It is a vast underground water storage tank originally built by Constantine the Great. It was enlarged by Justinian in the 6th century. The cistern was largely neglected after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Yerebatan Cistern was basically became a muddy subterranean ruin until it was cleaned up and opened up in 1987. What you see today is a huge tank containing 336 columns and about 12 inches of water on the floor. Wooden planks have been laid down so you can walk amongst the columns some of which are quite decorative. On of the most famous sights within the cistern is the pedestal with the two Medusa heads carved into it. One head is on its side, the other inverted. There are also suppose to be goldfish swimming about the water but, alas I did not see any. During my visit, there was an art exhibit on display featuring images a lit on the bare walls of the cistern. This was actually pretty interesting and I do not know if the exhibit is pernament or temperory.
    The Yerebatan Cistern is open from 9am to 5pm everyday but Tuesday when it is closed. It cost 10,000,000 lira to enter at the time of my visit. That is about $7.00US.

    Yerebatan Cistern
    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Arts and Culture
    • Historical Travel

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  • Lalique's Profile Photo

    YEREBATAN (BYZANTINE) CISTERN

    by Lalique Updated Mar 10, 2004

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    Have you seen James Bond serial? I bet you have .... Do you remember when Roger Moore (I guess it was already him playing the role) was escaping from some Embassy in the Orient thru a hidden passage leading under the building and then found himself in a huge colonnaded indoors where he took a rawing boat to sail away????
    Well, that was the place :)

    Very spectacular inside. There is a permanent light and sound show, which is very organically fits the interior, some parts of the cistern are really spooky :))

    Head of Medousa

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  • cvjetic_22's Profile Photo

    Magnificent

    by cvjetic_22 Updated Jan 29, 2004

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    You enter through small, ordinary doors, invited in by a colleague who accidentally stopped to read an even more ordinary board in the front. You dwell on the 7EUR entry fee. After taking that chance, they tell you to always watch your step because it’s slippery.

    Down the stairs, and humiliation of your own skepticism slaps you across the face. You stand in front of 10000 sq. meter covered by a dome leaning on 336 columns. You stand “in” where the water, brought here from the 19km distant Belgrade Forrest through a system of Aqueducts, used to be.

    You feel small walking down the Cistern’s pathway labyrinth while drops of moisture create perfectly concentric circles beating against the surface of the water now below you.

    Inside
    Related to:
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    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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  • Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi

    by stephenshephard Written Oct 28, 2003

    A very strange tourist attraction, otherwise known as the 'sunken palace'. It is a vast, columned chamber in which classical music is played and art is exhibited. This was one of the water cisterns used to supply Byzantine Constantinople. Along with the remains of the Aqueduct of Valens it is a reminder that Constantinople was born a Roman city. The supply of water was probably the greatest triumph of Roman engineering - it's been said that the city of Rome in the first century AD was supplied with more water than New York City in 1985.

    Basilica Cistern, Istanbul
    Related to:
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  • hadrian's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi II

    by hadrian Updated Oct 18, 2003

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    The cistern is 70m wide and 140m long and has 336 columns, most of them topped with Byzantine Corinthian capitals. Two of them representing a point of attraction because, a Medusa head were used as a base, which probably were part of an altar dedicated to water nymphs. The place at the base of the columns suggests that the constructors were Christians, who did not want to revere a God of a pagan period.
    (it is open daily, 9.00-17.00, between October-April, 8.30-16.00, entrance fee around 8$)

    Basilica Cistern
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    • Arts and Culture

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    Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi I

    by hadrian Written Oct 17, 2003

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    It is a vast underground cistern, a beautiful example of the Byzantine engineering. It was build in 532 AD by Justinian to fulfill the bigger and bigger need of water for the Imperial Palace. The Ottoman conquerors discovered it 100 years after they conquered the city when they found out that the citizen supplied themselves with water through holes made in the cellars of their houses.
    (it is open daily, 9.00-17.00, between October-April, 8.30-16.00, entrance fee around 8$)

    Basilica Cistern
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  • Bigjones's Profile Photo

    Underground cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi)

    by Bigjones Updated Sep 25, 2003

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    This is the largest underground cistern in Istanbul and the only one that has been restored (in 1987) and opened to public. It was built in the 4th century in Sultanahmet near Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque. For much of the Ottoman period it served as a well and a fishing hole for the locals.
    Today, you can still watch fish swimming in the water and walk through the illuminated columns. Classical music adds to the mystery of the place.
    You can also see Medusa's head at the base of two of the 336 columns. In Greek mythology, Medusa is one of Gorgons, the female monsters of the underground, who could turn people into stone. The Medusa were used to protect buildings.

    Entrance fee : 10 million liras

    Medusa

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  • Aggeliki's Profile Photo

    Basilica cistern

    by Aggeliki Updated Sep 24, 2003

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    One of the most attractive monuments to see in Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern. It was built in Ad 532 and this is the largest surviving Byzantine cistern. Low light inside gives at this place a dreamy atmosphere.

    the interior of the cistern

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  • mardaska's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Saray

    by mardaska Written Aug 23, 2003

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    This byzantine cistern was the main source of water for Istanbul. It is well restored, about 140m long and 70 wide with decorated columns that support the arched roof. At the end of the walkway you can see two Medusa heads used as column bases.

    Yerebatan Saray
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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  • elcolibri's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Saray (Basilica Cistern)

    by elcolibri Written Aug 1, 2003

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    Yerebatan Saray , the Basilica Cistern, built by the Emperor Justinian is one of the most important still surviving cistern in Istanbul. This cistern covers an area of approximately ten thousand square meters. It has 336 marble columns inside. Dont forget watch each one, all are different.

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  • Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)

    by kedi+ Written Feb 6, 2003

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    The Basilica Cistern was originally developed by Justinian in 532 AD. You can walk with the sounds of classical music and dripping water. You'll see Medusa figures inside..
    It's a magical atmosphere and should be lived...

    Medusa from Basilica Cistern

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  • 80-bettyboo's Profile Photo

    Underground Cistern

    by 80-bettyboo Written Feb 2, 2003

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    The cistern was built by Justinian in the 6th century with the capacity of 80,000 cu.m. of water.we call it Yerebatan Sarrayý..
    It is 140 meters long, 70 meters wide and has got 336 beautiful beautiful columns .
    while u are walking around, u can enjoy the classical music background.
    Open everyday except Mondays..
    Ent Fee : 2$

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  • beatle74's Profile Photo

    My favourite place - Yerebatan Cistern

    by beatle74 Written Jan 20, 2003

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    Near Hagia Sophia is the sixth-century Byzantine cistern known as the Yerebatan Sarnici. Three hundred and thirty-six massive Corinthian columns support the immense chamber's fine brick vaulting.

    Medusa as an Archetype

    Medusa has historically been seen as the archetype of the nasty mother, however she is far more complex. She symbolizes the following:

    Sovereign female wisdom. The female mysteries. All the forces of the primordial Great Goddess: The Cycles of Time as past, present and future. The Cycles of Nature as life, death and rebirth. She is universal Creativity and Destruction in eternal Transformation. She is the Guardian of the Thresholds and the Mediatrix between the Realms of heaven, earth and the underworld. She is Mistress of the Beasts. Latent and Active energy.

    Connection to the earth. The union of heaven and earth. She destroys in order to recreate balance. She purifies.

    She is the ultimate truth of reality, the wholeness beyond duality. She rips away our mortal illusions. Forbidden yet liberating wisdom. The untamable forces of nature. As a young and beautiful woman she is fertility and life. As crone she consumes by devouring all on the earth plane. Through death we must return to the source, the abyss of transformation, the timeless realm. We must yield to her and her terms of mortality. She reflects a culture in harmony with nature.

    And.....You'll find out that Medusa is in there!!! But before that, please
    watch out the stairs, sometimes they can be really slippery.

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