Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Yerebatan Sarayı (Basilica Cistern), Istanbul, Turkey

Most people when walking past this small building will be asking themselves what is that, and where are all those people going to, they can't all fit in there surely?  Even when you get up close to the building there is only one small sign to tell you of what lies beneath.

The Yerebatan Sarayı (Basilica Cistern) was built in the 6th Century during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian.  It is the largest of several hundred ancient Cisterns to be found under the streets of Istanbul.

The Basilica Cistern got its name from the large public square (Stoa Basilica), which was located above.


The Cistern provided a water filtration system for the Great Palace of Constantinople and other buildings around the square and continued to provide water to the Topkapı Palace after the Ottoman Conquest of 1453 and into modern times.

Now I have to say at this point, that I was very disappointed with my photos, I just could not get the right settings for the lighting conditions.  I guess to add atmosphere to the Cistern lighting has been kept to a minimum, with mostly up-lighting and I just could not get a decent shot, but I still wanted to add this page to my blog as it is a fascinating place and we had seen several programs on it.  Although I have to say we were a little disappointed it did not seem quite so impressive as the programs suggested, but I guess that is the power of TV.

Here we have come down 52 uneven, wet, stone steps and this is the first glimpse that you get of the Cistern.


Here you can see some of the stone columns with the up-lighting that I was telling you about.

All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

From this point onwards I was using flash to try and get some more light into the shots as it was just to dark, but as a result I was unable to get sharpness in the photos.


The cistern covers an area of 9,800 square meters or 105,000 square feet and has 336 marble columns holding up the vaulted ceiling.  Each of the columns are 9 meters or 30 feet high.


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

This column is said to be engraved with Hen's Eyes, slanted branches and tears.  Ancient text records that the tears pay tribute to the hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Cistern.


On the other side of this column can be found a thumb, sized hole, that has become popular with people wanting their photo taken with their thumb in the hole!!


All Images Copyright 2000-2012 Janice Parr

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