Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Saray, Istanbul

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  • H-TownJourneyman's Profile Photo

    The Medusa Heads

    by H-TownJourneyman Updated Feb 19, 2007

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    Upside Down Medusa Head
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    Located in the back of the Yerebatan Sarnici, these Medusa heads are placed beneath 2 separate columns that support the underground structure. Reasons why the heads were placed here are uncertain, but they are thought to have come from another Roman structure, possibly a Byzantine palace. The heads are oddly placed beneath the columns, one upside down, and the other on it's side. This also is a bit of a mystery, but it could be attributed to old Roman mythology regarding Medusa and her ability to turn a man into stone upon looking at her. The heads placed in this manner could have provided protection from her evil glare! :)

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    Yerebatan Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnici)

    by Paul2001 Written Mar 11, 2004

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    Yerebatan Cistern

    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.

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    Bascilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarayi) part 2

    by AcornMan Written May 1, 2004

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    Medusa head base

    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).

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  • angelochka's Profile Photo

    unique place with unique atmosphere

    by angelochka Written Aug 25, 2006

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    everytime i'm in im istanbul i'm visiting Yerebetan Cistern, it's something magic and completely standing apart, and not only children are fascinated by it's darkness, echoes and drops falling from ceiling...please pay attention to 2 Medusa heard supporting columns

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  • Martin_S.'s Profile Photo

    Yerbetan Cistern

    by Martin_S. Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Yerebatan Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey
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    The Yerbetan (or Basilica) Cistern is a fantastic adventure into the depths of the earth just below your feet while you are in Istanbul. The entrance to this fantastic construction is a small unpretentious building with a small red sign. After paying your entrance fee, you walk down a flight of steps and enter a different world. Water for the ancient city of Istanbul was moved here by an aqueduct, and the sheer SIZE of this Cistern is amazing, 100,000 cubic meters of water. But what is even more fantastic is the columns jutting from the water and the fish swimming among them. They have done an excellent job with projected and subdued lighting that highlights them very well.
    http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/go/Istanbul/Sights/Sultanahmet/Yerebatan.html
    There are also two "Medusa Heads" at the bottom of two columns to be found here.

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  • MalenaN's Profile Photo

    The Medusa Head

    by MalenaN Updated Dec 22, 2004

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    The Medusa head

    In the left corner, in the far end, of Basilica Cistern are two columns standing on a Medusa head each. One of the Medusa heads are upside down and the other is lying on its side. Because they are like this they are probably not for decoration but only old stones that have been reused.
    Medusa, who according to the Greek mythology could petrify with her looks, is now “in stone”.

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  • mikelisaanna's Profile Photo

    The Basilica Cistern

    by mikelisaanna Updated Sep 1, 2008

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    Columns in the Basilica Cistern

    The cistern is a large underground reservoir located about a block away from Hagia Sophia in the Sultanahmet section of Istanbul. Orignallly built during the reign of Emperor Justinia in the 6th century, the cistern can hold up to 80,000 cubic meters of water. It supplied water to the imperial palaces of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires for over 100 years.

    In addition to being practical, the cistern is also architecturally attractive, with a ceiling held up by over 300 volumns. It is open to tourists and you can walk through it on a raised walkway that runs through its center. In the summer, it makes for a nice cool break from Istanbul's heat and humidity.

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  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern-Yerebatan Sarnisi

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated May 9, 2009

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    Basilica Cistern-Yerebatan Sarnisi
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    The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city Constantinople. The cistern, located South West of the Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.

    You can watch my 2 min 23 sec HQ Video Istanbul Yerebatan Sarayi out of my Youtube channel with Turkish pop music by Rayhan – Karacaseudik – Incar Ediyorum.

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  • viajeras2's Profile Photo

    The Cistern Basilica- Yerebatan Sarayi

    by viajeras2 Updated Aug 22, 2007

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    The great Byzantine cistern, located across from Hagia Sophia, was used to supply the necessary water to the city during the babarian attacks and when the city was under siege. 336 columns, with Doric and Corinthian capitals, were brought from various locations in Asia Minor for the construcction of the cistern. A monumental aqueduct, built by emperor Valens and still a major attraction of the city, porvided water to the cistern.

    Locals have differents price, much cheaper than the toursit...can be like trap :(
    Is amazing place to visit specially when face Medusa...after so many years hear about this place specially old time school.

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  • iaint's Profile Photo

    cistern!

    by iaint Updated Jan 30, 2010

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    entrance ticket

    This is the old water supply to the palace, located underground opposite Aya Sofya...complete with fish.

    It's cool, so cool, so in summer it's worth the entry fee for that alone!

    But seriously, it is interesting how sophisticated the Byzantine plumbing can be...

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  • hadrian's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi I

    by hadrian Written Oct 17, 2003

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    Basilica Cistern

    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$)

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    Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi II

    by hadrian Updated Oct 18, 2003

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    Basilica Cistern
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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$)

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  • mardaska's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Saray

    by mardaska Written Aug 23, 2003

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    Yerebatan Saray

    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.

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  • stevemt's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern

    by stevemt Written Apr 14, 2010

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    This is a water cistern that supplied water to the Bysantine grand palace.

    The Cistern was discovered when a french specialiest for the era observed a family living over the cistern open a trap in the floor, lower a bucket and pull up some fish.

    The cistern was then re opened and explored.

    There are 2 carvings of Medusa's head there.

    Concerts are occaisionally held there.

    The place is huge.

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  • IvaT's Profile Photo

    The most wonderful place in Istanbul

    by IvaT Updated Nov 22, 2006

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    Columns
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    Yerebatan Saray od Basillica Cistern is the most wonderful place I have ever seen. It is an underground cister founded by Justinianus I, a Byzantine Empire (527-565) and it has 336 marble columns each 9 meters high. It is 70 meters wide and 140 meters long. It is capable of holding 80,000 cubic metres of water.
    The water came from Belgrade Forest which is 19 kilometers from the city. There is also a small coffee bar in it.
    Visit their web site to see other photos, but they can not demonstrate how magnificent this place is. You have to visit it.

    admission : 10 YTL (approximately 5 EUR)
    time needed: about 30 minutes or more

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