Friday Photo: The Sunken Palace of Istanbul

Basilica Cistern, the largest of hundreds of cisterns found underneath the modern city of Istanbul, was built around the sixth century during the Byzantine era. Throughout its history, this cistern had supplied the water needs of the Great Palace of Constantinople, and then the Topkapi Palace during the Ottoman era.

Going down the staircase, you will reach the bottom of this giant water container. Instead of feeling like being inside a water tank, I felt like being inside a dark and ancient sunken palace, or Yerebatan Sarayi, as the Turkish might call it. The big hall is laid in front of you, and raised from the water-covered ground: beautiful corridors of more than 300 marble columns, 9 metres tall each, illuminated by dim light inside the vast shadowy hall. The soft noise of trickling water adds to the feeling of serenity inside this palace.

Have you visited any ancient underground structure? How did it make you feel?

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15 Responses to “Friday Photo: The Sunken Palace of Istanbul”

  1. Anil
    2 May 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Lovely picture. The closest underground thing that comes to mind was a tour of the Seattle underground which I thought was really cool.

    • Dina
      2 May 2010 at 11:51 pm #

      Hi Anil, what kind of things do you see in the Seattle underground tour? That reminds me that in Paris Ryan and I did the Paris sewage system tour, it was really interesting.

  2. Sabina
    2 May 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    Oh, wow. That is really beautiful. And I like the orange-ish hue.
    .-= Sabina´s last blog ..Visit the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt Without Getting Hustled =-.

    • Dina
      2 May 2010 at 11:53 pm #

      Thanks Sabina! That cistern was a really interesting place to visit. The ground was covered by water (so we walked on a pathway) and there were some fish in it :)

  3. Ashley
    3 May 2010 at 12:30 am #

    Looks stunning! It reminds me of a church we visited in Venice…it had a underground area – much smaller – where we walked on a little path and were surrounded by water. There was a statue of the Virgin Mary across from us and it was all quite lovely. I wish I could remember the name of the church, but we just wandered in.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Choosing a Study Abroad Program – First Guest Post! =-.

    • Dina
      6 May 2010 at 10:30 pm #

      That church sounds so cool, Ashley! I hope I can find that if I go to Venice :) Tell me the name if you can remember.

  4. gaye
    5 May 2010 at 11:55 am #

    love the photo! if i’m not mistaken (please correct me if i’m wrong), there’s this underground mosque near taman sari water castle in yogyakarta. we didn’t have a guide so i’m not entirely sure. it was pretty amazing.

    .-= gaye´s last blog ..East Malaysian Borneo: Sandakan =-.

    • Dina
      13 May 2010 at 11:54 am #

      Gaye, thanks!! The one you mention in Yogyakarta, I hope I will be able to find it when I go there again. Sounds awesome!

  5. Monica
    5 May 2010 at 9:54 pm #

    This definitely brings me back to last September when we were both in the same place at the same time. What a small world. :)

    Did you get a chance to have some Turkish coffee in the Basilica? It reminds me a lot of the Phantom of the Opera. Lol
    .-= Monica´s last blog ..I Brought Home A Boy =-.

    • Dina
      6 May 2010 at 10:28 pm #

      Hahaha, yes, small world! You had the Turkish coffee “inside” the Basilica? Wow, that’s cool! I didn’t do that though.. Lol for the Phantom of the Opera :D

  6. Carol@trekdigest
    6 May 2010 at 9:39 pm #

    The Cistern was cool. Did you see the upside-down Medusa?
    .-= Carol@trekdigest´s last blog ..Rome: Forums and Spring Flowers =-.

    • Dina
      6 May 2010 at 10:29 pm #

      The upside down Medusa and the sideways one are cool! I’m still wondering about the story behind it.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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  2. The Walled Obelisk In Istanbul’s Hippodrome | foXnoMad - 2 September 2010

    [...] The park is right next to the Blue (Sultan Ahmet) Mosque and Hagia Sophia (Ayasofya) with the underground Byzantine Cistern on the northern edge. Within the park itself and across from the Walled Obelisk is the Obelisk of [...]

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