Basilica Cistern - Yerebatan Saray, Istanbul
"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 ... :
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" ... :
A "must see" spot of Istanbul .... :)
This sight is also in the Sultan Ahmet area. For some reason many tourists don't visit the Yerebatan Saray. Perhaps they have not heard of it, don't notice it or think it won't be all that interesting. Personally I rather liked it. It's certainly something different.
Yerebatan Saray means underground palace. It is a huge underground cistern. It was built in the sixth century by around 7000 slaves during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. This was the largest underground water cistern in Byzantium and provided water for the Great Palace, which stood on the site of the present day Sultan Ahmet Mosque. After the Ottoman conquest in 1453, the cistern provided water to Topkapi Palace. The cistern continued to be used up to even quite modern times.
This underground cistern is approximately 453 feet by 212 feet, making it about 105,000 square feet in area. It is capable of holding 2,800,000 cubic feet of water. The ceiling of the cistern is supported by 336 marble columns, arranged in twelve rows of twenty-eight columns. Some of these columns are carved with tears. This is said to be in memory of the slaves who died building the cistern. Two of the most famous columns in the cistern are carved with the head of the Medusa. One is placed sideways, one upside down, perhaps in the hope she does not turn any visitors brave enough to look at her into stone.
The water that used to fill the cistern came from the Belgrade Forest. This is about twelve miles north of Istanbul. The water travelled to the cistern through the Valens Aqueduct, and the Mağlova Aqueduct, which were built by the Emperor Justinian. Parts of these aquaducts can still be seen today.
This cistern was used to film a scene from the 1963 James Bond film 'From Russia with Love'.
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!
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.
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.
Okay, it's cheesy. New age music is piped in, creating an eerie effect. Lighting is shown to give an otherworldly glow to an already weird place.
Nevertheless, it is worth however much it costs to get in. The columns were scavenged from old Greek monuments, water drips from the ceiling, fish swim in the eternal darkness. And it's cool, which must be wonderful on a hot day.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
open between 9:30 am - 7:30 pm
it's cool inside ... perfect for a hot afternoon...
Don't forget Medusa on the far end.
For information about these atmospheric underground cisterns, click here.
Hagia Sophia has a water reserve under the ground... you will find there a very special atmosphere...and an old sculture representing Medusa...
yerebatab Sarnici -The Basilica Cistern, is the old underground water storage area. Its something easy to access and very important old monumnet of Istanbul.
See the Palace Cistern. Try to go when the dervishes are dancing. It's very cool (and temperature cool also, which is great if you are in Istanbul during the summer)!