Exploring the Depths of Istanbul

This post is in response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Depth.”

The Depth of Basilica Cistern
Scores of columns lined up give an impression of depth in the Basilica Cistern (click on the picture to view a larger version)

The Basilica Cistern of Istanbul is an architectural wonder, yes, but it is not exactly a cheerful place. It literally lies a few floors deep into (i.e. below) the ground near the Hagia Sofia and was built to store water delivered from the Black Sea, for the Great Palace of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul). The cistern is huge and stands with the help of more than 300 columns (some of them ornately carved, and two of them having the famous Medusa heads at their bases), plundered from temples and other buildings in other parts of the Byzantine empire.

It was dark inside, as expected. As we walked on the damp and sometimes slippery wooden walkways over the water, we would be surprised by a sudden tingle at the back of our necks caused by a drop of water that had fallen from the roof of the cistern. Ghostly looking fish that would raise their faces to the surface added to the spookiness of the place. Mysterious, fascinating, unusual and a little creepy – that’s the Basilica Cistern for you. There’s a cafe at the entrance / exit of the cistern, but I’d like my coffee with some daylight and a little less eeriness please, thank you!

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