Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Saray, Istanbul

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  • TrendsetterME's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, TR

    by TrendsetterME Written Aug 14, 2013
    Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, TR
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    "Basilica Cistern", one of the most visited historical and touristic spot of Istanbul ...

    Beneath Istanbul lie hundreds of gloomy Byzantine cisterns. They're left from the days when Istanbul was Constantinople.

    The grandest of all is the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnic), so called because it lay beneath the Stoa Basilica, a grand Byzantine public square. It's also called the Sunken Palace Cistern (Yerebatan Saray Sarniciı) because that's what it looks like.

    Whatever you call it, it's impressive because of its size, measuring 138 meters long and 64.6 meters wide, covering nearly 1000 square meters (2.4 acres); its capacity (80,000 cubic meters, over 21 million US gallons) and its 336 marble columns.

    Here on my "Travelogue" you can see more photos of this great architecture ... :
    Travelogue

    Massive restoration was required to make the Basilica Cistern as visitor-friendly as it is today.

    In 1985, 50,000 tons of mud was removed from the site and walking platforms were constructed; in 1994, another revamp was carried out.

    Now, visitors can stroll along the platforms and watch resident goldfish swim in the Cistern's cool waters. The Basilica Cistern also houses its own candlelit cafe where soft lighting and classical music contributes to the overall atmosphere of the place.

    Here you can watch my "Video" for the "Basilica Cistern" ... :
    Video

    A "must see" spot of Istanbul .... :)

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    Basilica Cistern

    by magor65 Written Feb 21, 2014
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    The Basilica Cistern, known also as the Sunken Palace, is definitely a must-see attraction of Istanbul. Although it's not the only covered water reservoir in the city, it is undoubtedly the largest and most famous one. It is 140 metres long and 65 metres wide, i.e. it covers almost 1000 square metres. It has the capacity to store nearly 100 000 tons of water. These numbers may sound quite abstract until the moment you are inside the cistern and you realize how immense it is.
    The ceiling is supported by 9-metre-high columns arranged in 12 rows. Each row consists of 28 columns varying in styles ( Corinthian, Doric and Ionic).
    The cistern was built in the times of Emperor Justinian I in the 6th century to store water for the Great Palace in case of war or another calamity that would make it impossible to have the fresh water transported via the aqueducts. Forgotten for next centuries, the cistern was rediscovered in 1545 by a man called Peter Gyllins, who noticed that local people got water just by lowering buckets to the holes in the floors of their houses.
    The Basilica Cistern was opened to the public in 1987. Visitors can easily stroll here using the walkways constructed over the water. Subdued lighting, soft music and cool temperature make the walk even more pleasurable. The tall columns reflect in the dark water, but people look down amazed rather by the enormous fish that appear in the deep.
    In the far left-hand corner of the cistern we will find two fascinating column bases in the shape of Medusa heads. One of them is positioned upside down, the other one sideways. The most popular explanation says that it was done to ward off evil spirits.
    If you are a fan of James Bond movies you may know that Basilica Cistern was one of Istanbul locations for filming of " From Russia with Love" starring Sean Connery. In the scene Bond uses a periscope installed in the cistern to spy on the Soviets.

    Open daily from 09:00 to 17:30
    Entrance fee TL 10.00

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    “Underground Man Made Reservoir”

    by AVSENT Written Mar 1, 2014

    This is an amazing structure to visit. Made by Romans to hide their water, it is a great architectural undertaking. They are nearly empty and have a small amount of water and fish. So, you can see the large underground space that stored the vast amount of water. It has a very interesting history as well, and is probably a top 10 attraction in Istanbul.

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  • Snipernurse's Profile Photo

    The Basilica Cistern

    by Snipernurse Written Jun 24, 2008
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    I was really surprised by the Cistern, it is quite interesting and impressive. Built in 532 AD, it features 336 columns in 12 rows, a couple of which feature upside down medusa heads. The lighting gives it a great ambiance but pictures are difficult. The cistern was used to bring water to the palace. Great for a visit in the heat of the afternoon

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  • floche2001's Profile Photo

    Don't miss the cisterns !

    by floche2001 Updated Apr 27, 2008

    Tough a little biut expensive, the visit to the Yerebatan Sarnici is a must in Istambul. Located just next to Aya Sofia, take 20 min to visit it. It's simply beautiful with 336 colums arranged in 12 rows of 28. The red lights in the water and the classical music are really pleasant. And go to then end to seethe two Medusa columns! Amazing !

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  • aukahkay's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern

    by aukahkay Written Nov 8, 2008
    Basilica Cisterns
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    Located right in the heart of Sultanahmet is an intricate system of cisterns built by Emperor Justinian in AD 532. The cistern is 65 m wide and 143 m long and its roof is supported by 336 columns arranged in 12 rows. There are two unique columns supported by upside-down Medusa heads.

    Concerts are sometimes held in the cistern

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  • xiquinho's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Sarayi - The Underground Palace

    by xiquinho Written Dec 29, 2007

    It isn't every municipal water-works that becomes a tourist attraction. But this 6th-century Byzantine underground water cistern is rather special, having been constructed using hundreds of Greek and Roman columns to support the 20m high brick vaulted ceiling.

    Measuring 140m by 70m, there's no hint in the busy road junction above that it even exists. Once inside you're free to wander the raised walkways through the forest of columns. Subtle lighting and piped classical music complete the atmospherics and give the ancient feat of engineering a suitably mystical ambience.

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  • ogb4619's Profile Photo

    512AD and all that

    by ogb4619 Written Nov 2, 2005

    I have to say that i'm as impressed as every other visitor to this 1,500 year old cistern.

    It was built to provide water to the world's largest city while it was under siege from the Greeks and several other invading armies. It served its purpose and saved the city residents on several occasions.

    There is still amazingly clear and fresh water in it, albeit only a few inches deep, with large and lazy fish.

    The amazing thing about this is that when it was full (I've forgotten how many zillion cubic metres of fresh water), the water never seeped out. Even now, 1.500 years later, it's still water tight (to a few feet anyway).

    This is well worth a visit.
    Built by the Romans, i tried and failed at comparing it with the Roman baths in Bath, England.

    If you take a half day City Sights Tour which will cost you EU30 per head, this, the Blue Mosque, the Grand Bazaar and several other more important historical sights are included.

    The cistern is a few minutes walk from the Blue Mosque.

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  • toshigiappone's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Sarnici (Basilica Cistern) General Info

    by toshigiappone Written May 2, 2005
    Yerebatan Sarnici

    This is a special monument, you should not miss. At first this was built by Byzantine Emperor Justinian, and is the largest cistern left in Istanbul.

    The total number of columns is 336, and the roof is 65 meter wide and 143 long. As you see, the forms of capitals differs from each others. So, these columns had to be taken from other buildings.

    After the collpse of Byzantine Empire, the existence of this cistern have been forgotten. Of course, people knew that there was a big water pool below there house, but they used this space as a huge "trash box", or enjoyed fishing.

    Inside, it is very cool, sometimes water drops fall down. So, please take care of them!

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    Yerebatan Sarnici (Basilica Cistern) Medusa

    by toshigiappone Written May 2, 2005
    Medusa

    When you enter the Basilica Cistern, you should not miss two famous heads of Medusa at the northwest corner! One is totally upside down, and the other lies. There is an explanation board of these Medusas, so you can know more about them.

    These medusas are in a very good condition, so it is one of masterpieces of Roman Art.

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  • sswagner's Profile Photo

    Basilica Cistern

    by sswagner Written Dec 24, 2004
    columns and the ceiling

    Without a doubt, this is one of the best surprises that you will find in Istanbul. The little building above ground at the entrance gives no clue about what lies beneath. This is a vast chamber with columns that makes you feel like you are in a fantasy movie. Music sets the mood and you can also hear the water dripping. Dont miss the medusa stone works at the back. This ancient cistern was a water source for Constantinople for hundreds of years. I do not know where else you can find something similar to this.

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  • Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Sarayi

    by stephenshephard Written Oct 28, 2003
    Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

    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.

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  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan Cistern (Basilica Cistern)

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Apr 14, 2012

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    Ancient Roman Cistern underneath the Hippodrome. Built in the 6th century, this cistern still holds water today. Keep an eye out for the Medussa head carvings.

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  • Tdiver's Profile Photo

    Yerebatan cistern

    by Tdiver Written May 31, 2006

    3 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Yerebatan cistern.

    Built as a reservoir for the city,one of a few.
    As it says on the door,built around 532A.D. and a cooling respite from the heat above.Currently $7 to get in.

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  • istanbul_is's Profile Photo

    Go and see absolutely this...

    by istanbul_is Written Feb 25, 2003

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    Go and see absolutely this wonderful place : Yerebatan Sarayi in turkish , means sunken palace . In the guides , Cistern Basilica . Don't ask anymore go there only .

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