My job allows me to visit a lot of Alaska on a yearly basis. I wanted to capture the trips in one location!

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

on February 10, 2013


I must admit when we read about the ‘cisterns’ I thought, what’s the big deal?  Why would I care to go to an underground water-gathering place?  In the end I was wrong, this was very cool.

Though there are many cisterns under ground in Istanbul, there are only 2 currently open to the public.  This cistern is close to Hagia Sophia, just across the train tracks.  There seemed to be a long line all the time, mostly school-aged kids out on a class trip.  We lucked out as when we arrived, we had almost no one in line.

The cistern was built in the 6th century.  Originally this area was the First Hill of Constantinople and the Stoa Basilica, and before it was turned into a cistern, the great Basilica that stood here was built in the 3rd and 4th centuries.  There were over 7000 slaves that helped with the construction of the cistern.   It had been basically forgotten until 1545 when it was a Frenchman was looking into the area and discovered that many locals got water by putting pails into holes in their basements.  IMG_8933 IMG_8932 IMG_8931 IMG_8930 IMG_8929 IMG_8928

In the far left hand corner from the entry, there are 2 Medusa heads on columns.  One head is upside down and the other is on its side.  No one really knows why they are here, but there is thought that these columns were from another building in town that was built during the late Roman period. IMG_8927 IMG_8926 IMG_8921 IMG_8920

Water was provided to the Great Palace of Constantinople from this cistern and most of the area.  When in the cistern it seems like a forest of marble columns, there are 336 all together!  They are all 9 meters tall and spaced 4 meters apart.  There are 12 rows of 28 columns!IMG_8910 IMG_2293 IMG_2292 IMG_2291 IMG_2288 IMG_2286

Cistern holds over 22,000 gallons of water.  James Bond spent time in this Cistern in the movie From Russia with Love!

2 responses to “Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey

  1. kathy grisinger says:

    Love your travels. Me


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