Basilica Cistern- exploring underground Istanbul

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The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns (basically places to hold rainwater) that lie beneath the city of Istanbul.

Near the Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern was built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian- and it’s one of the most uinque places we’ve seen. Take a peek at some of the photos below:

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The two Medusa’s head columns in the cistern are from Roman times but no one knows exactly where the 2 heads came from. And why is one Medusa head tilted and the other one upside down? Apparently this was done on purpose but we don’t know why.

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Definitely worth a look around so if you’re in Istanbul checking out the Hagia Sophia- visit the Basilica first. We got here pretty early and were able to beat most of the large tour groups. Wear sturdy shoes as there are some stairs to climb and most of the walkway down here is a bit wet!



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