Thursday, June 22, 2017

Y is for Yerebatan Saray Sarnıçı in Istanbul

Hidden beneath the historical area of Sultanahmet in Istanbul is one of my favorite sites to show visitors, especially during the hot summer months.

After walking down a few flights of somewhat slippery steps, you’ll find yourself in what is commonly known as the Basilica Cistern (Yerebatan Sarnıç in Turkish) because it lays beneath the Stoa Basilica, a grand Byzantine public square. The cistern also is called the Sunken Palace Cistern (Yerebatan Saray Sarnıçı) because of its gorgeous 336 Byzantine marble columns and impressive size – nearly 9,800 square meters (2.4 acres)!

Did you know that this dark chamber has the capacity to hold near 80,000 cubic meters of water (21 million US gallons) of water?

In fact, when Istanbul was Constantinople, hundreds of Byzantine cisterns were located underneath the old city and were used to store fresh water. The Ottomans used the Yerebatan to supply fresh water to the Topkapı Palace. You can still find a few cisterns around Sultanahmet that are used in restaurants or simply forgotten about.

The Yerebatan Cistern is the perfect retreat from Istanbul’s sweltering summer days. The cavernous room is cool and dark, lit only by lights along the elevated pathway and to illuminate some of the columns. Water droplets of condensation fall down on you as you’re exploring this underground treasure.
I also always imagined that the cistern would be the perfect location to fill a horror movie as well!
Did you that one of the old James Bond movies was filmed in the cistern? Not too long ago, I had to rewatch From Russia With Love especially the scene when Bond is seen rowing a small boat between the cistern’s columns?

When you visit the Yerebatan Cistern, don’t forget to look for the mysterious Medusa-like head as well!

I’m linking this post to the monthly A-Z travel guide link up organized by Fiona, a fellow Australian blogger, at Tiffin Bite Sized Food Adventures. Each month features a new letter of the alphabet. This month is the letter “Y.” Please pop on over to Fiona’s blog to read more travel stories or feel free to link up your own!

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jaz@octoberfarm said...

it's really pretty scary but beautiful as well.

Sherry's Pickings said...

This is so beautiful and amazing. What a wonderful spot to wander thru. One day...

Unknown said...

Scott and I really enjoyed visiting this historical site with you when we visited you. I think we need one of these in Texas so we can go enjoy it during the hot summer months.
Awesome blog post as always. Thank you for sharing.