Basilica Cistern

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey

Near the Hippodrome and the centre of ancient Constantinople is the largest Cistern in the city. There is nothing to see from the street level because all of the magic is happening below the streets and parks and buildings.  There are several hundred cisterns in the city.

Down the steps from street level.

There is a picture booth on the left.

For an additional charge, you can have your picture taken while you are dressed in the silk apparel of a Sultan.

Waiting in silk Sultan costumes

This magical space has been an inspirational setting for many novels and movies. In 1963, the James Bond story, From Russia with Love, took a boat through the cistern and filmed many scenes in the city nearby. The cistern is featured in Clive and Dirk Cussler’s 2010 Dirk Pitt fiction novel, Crescent Dawn and The Navigator. In 2013 Jean-Baptiste Andrea’s film thriller Brotherhood of Tears filmed parts here. Dan Brown featured the inverted Medusa pillar in the 2013  novel Inferno and of course the movie too. In the 2015 Marvel novel Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl, the climax takes place in this cistern.

9 metres high and covers 9800 square metres.

It seems like the length and width change frequently

336 columns support the roof

Of course, a cistern has to be filled with water. And where there is water there can be fish.  I am wondering if they serve the same purpose as the canary in the mine.

fish swimming in the cistern

Exploring the darker corners.

Where it is less well lit, it is nice to have handrails along the walkways.

hang on to the rail

Lights emphasise the Roman vision.

– Where do You want to go today? –

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6 Responses to Basilica Cistern

  1. Edel says:

    I love it!! Thank you for taking me on a travel across the globe with words and beautiful pictures.

  2. Alice Gerard says:

    Wow, thank you for the tour of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul,Turkey. It’s quite beautiful. I really appreciate your sharing your adventure with me.

  3. Martha says:

    WOW, just WOW, such beautiful photos! I’d love to be a fly on your collar when traveling to these breathtaking places.

  4. Vidya Tiru says:

    this is such a beautiful place indeed. Turkey has been one of our to-visit places for its rich history and beauty

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