Leo’s travel journal

Leo’s travel journal and other juicy bits…

Istanbul – part 02

with 3 comments

One of the magnificent historical constructions of Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern, located near the southwest of Hagia Sophia. This huge cistern founded by Justinianus I, a Byzantine Emperor (527 – 565) is called “the Sinking Palace” by the public owing to the great number of marble columns rising out of the water.

The name Basilica Cistern originates from a basilica which formerly existed in place of the cistern. The cistern is a giant construction located in a rectangular area with a length of 140m and width of 70m.

Inside this cistern, you descend through 52 stone steps and observe 336 columns each 9m high and 4.8m apart, arranged in 12 rows of 28 each.

The ceiling weight of the cistern is transferred to the columns by means of vaults. Majority of the columns which appear to have been taken from older buildings, which were engraved from various types of marble are composed of one piece while some were made up of two pieces.

Capitals of these columns have different features; 98 reflect the Corinth type, and some others reflect the Dor type.

The cistern has a capacity of 100,000 tons of water and have 4.8m thick brick walls plastered with a thick layer of Horasan mortar and made water resistant.

The two Medusa’s head columns found in the north west corner of the cistern are great examples of the Roman Age art sculptures. It is not known exactly where these two heads come from. Researchers think that they were brought there in order to be used only as column pedestals during the construction of the Cistern.


Written by Leo

3 April 2009 at 22:07

3 Responses

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  1. […] Fort Worthology put an intriguing blog post on Istanbul – part 02Here’s a quick excerptThe cistern is a giant construction located in a rectangular area with a length of 140m and width of 70m. […]

  2. Nice post! Very good observation and nice pics!


    4 April 2009 at 3:26

  3. Oooooh … eerie …anyone turned to stone by Medusa??? … ahahaha


    4 April 2009 at 10:15

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