Basilica Cistern

Historical underground cistern with amazing atmosphere and architecture.

Audio Guides8

The Basilica Cistern in Istanbul: A Treasure Trove of History and Architecture

As we step into the grand basilica cistern, let your imagination run wild with the tales of bygone eras. This stunning structure was built in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Justinian and served as a vital water storage system for the city. Look up at the intricate vaulted ceiling, adorned with golden mosaics, and feel the weight of history beneath your feet. As we explore the cistern, you'll discover fascinating stories about the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, and the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. Don't forget to spot the two marble Medusa heads, said to ward off evil and bring good luck! 😊


The Massive Pillars of the Basilica Cistern

As we wander deeper into the cistern, take note of the massive pillars that hold up the ceiling. These are remnants of ancient temples and are adorned with intricate carvings. Legend has it that one pillar, known as the 'Porphyry Column,' was brought from the temple of Artemis in Ephesus! 😲 Can you imagine the journey this column took to end up here? 🚀


The Beautiful Mosaics of the Basilica Cistern

As we move towards the southwest corner of the cistern, look up and marvel at the stunning mosaics that adorn the ceiling. These delicate works of art are made from tiny tiles and depict scenes from the Bible and Byzantine history. One mosaic shows the story of Noah's Ark, while another shows the triumph of Emperor Justinian over his enemies! 🐒🏆


The Mysterious Medusa Heads in the Basilica Cistern

As we venture further into the cistern, keep an eye out for two mysterious Medusa heads located on the southwest corner of the cistern. These intriguing carvings are said to bring good luck and protect against evil spirits! 😈 Can you spot them? 👀


The Secret Underground Waterways of Istanbul

As we explore the Basilica Cistern, imagine the vast network of underground waterways that lie beneath our feet. These secret tunnels and aqueducts were once used to supply water to the entire city! 💧 Can you envision the intricate system that brought life-giving water to the people of Istanbul? 🌊


The Intricate Carvings on the Pillars of the Basilica Cistern

As we make our way around the cistern, take note of the intricate carvings that adorn the pillars. These ancient symbols and motifs tell stories of Byzantine history and mythology. Can you decipher their meaning? 🤔


The Symbolism of the Basilica Cistern's Architecture

As we admire the architecture of the cistern, notice the symbolism behind its design. The crossed dome and base structure represent the Christian concept of the 'Cross.' Moreover, the 336 marble columns symbolize the number of days Jesus spent on Earth! 🌠 These subtle yet powerful symbols reveal the deep religious convictions of the Byzantine Empire. ✝️


The Legendary Gargoyles of the Basilica Cistern

As we approach the exit, keep an eye out for the playful gargoyles that adorn the cistern's walls. These whimsical creatures are said to have been designed to scare away evil spirits and bring good fortune! 🐉 Can you spot them? 👀