MarketMAPS takes a look at one of Turkey’s most exotic attractions, buried under the city! Take a look at Istanbul’s Water Underworld.
The Basilica Cistern is the largest of about 500 cisterns that exist under the city of Istanbul. A cistern is a large, subterranean structure designed to hold and store water. They are waterproof and, in the case of the Basilica Cistern, can be beautifully constructed with ornate designs.
Before it was converted into a cistern, a giant Basilica stood in its place, designed between the 3rd and 4th centuries. The Basilica was originally a commercial, legal and artistic center, but was later redesigned as a large, elaborate cistern.
The cathedral-sized cistern is roughly 450×200 feet in area and is capable of holding about 2.8 cubic feet of water—though today, only a few feet of water line the bottom. The ceiling is supported by more than 300 marble columns, each depicting intricately carved likenesses of mythical gods and symbols—such as Medusa and the Hen’s Eye.
The Basilica Cistern is one of Istanbul’s many ancient structures that are now open to tourists.
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Image 1 via bluehouse.com, Image 2 via static.guim.co.uk, Image 3 via 4.bp.blogspot.com, Image 4 via vacation-rentals.com, Image 5 via mapsales.com