Detailed review by galibali
One of the magnificent historical constructions of Istanbul is the Basilica Cistern, located near south-west of Ayasofya (Hagia Sophia). This huge cistern, which was founded by Justinianus I, a Byzantine Empire (527-565), began to be called by the public the Sinking Palace and not without a reason, seeing the great number of marble columns arising out of the water. In place of the cistern was formerly found a great Basilica, which had probably been built in IIIrd or IVth century during the Early Roman Age to be used in commercial and legal affairs and scientific and artistic activities. The basilica was reconstructed by Ilius after it had burned down in a conflagration that broke out in 476. Then it suffered another conflagration. It had a marble statue during the calamitous Nika rebellion in 532 which terrorized the city.
Again, it is narrated that 7.000 slaves worked in the construction of the cistern. In fact, the cistern borrowed its name from Ilius Basilica in the vicinity. The water of Basilica Cistern came from Eğrikapı Water Distribution Centre in Belgrade Forest, 19 kilometers from the city, through the 971-meter-long Valens (Bozdoğan) Aqueduct, which was built by the Emperor (368) and the 115.45-meter-long Mağlova Aqueduct, which was built by the Emperor Justinianus. This cistern that was laid on an area of total 9.800 m2 has the capacity to store 100.000 tons of water. The great majority of the columns in the cistern, excluding the few cornered or grooved ones, are in the form of cylinder, among which the one that was embroidered with repeatedly engraved and raised pictures of Hens Eye, Slanting Branches and Tears particularly draw attention. As a matter of fact, this column has resemblance to the columns in the Triumphal Arch of Great Theodesius belonging to the IVth century (379-395) erected in the Farum Tauri Square during the Byzantine Empire, the remains whereof are now found in today's Beyazıt Square. According to a narration, the reason why the figures thereon resemble tears is that it was erected to the memory of hundreds of slaves who died during the construction of the Great Basilica and has ever told their tragedy throughout centuries.
If we wish to journey back to the early ages of history about the great number of rumors that were based upon the mythology about Medusa, we could hear narrations like this:
According to a narration, Medusa was one of the three Gorgons, the female dragons of the underground in the Greek Mythology. Of those three sisters only Medusa with snakes for the hair was positive and had the power to turn those that looked at her into stone. Therefore, it is thought that in that period Gorgon-heads, figures and statues were put with an aim to protecting great buildings and special places and Medusa was also placed there with that contemplation.
The feeling is unique and the atmosphere as you're back in history. My photos are not very good, because my flash reflected the water on the bottom, but still hope you will enjoy them. Entrance fee is 10TL, i.e. 5euros.