Monday, March 10, 2008


My favorite place in Istanbul. Yerebatan...the cisterns in Sultanahmet. Here is a brief description and then a few pictures.

Yerebatan is a Byzantine cistern (underground water storage place) dating back to the 6th century. This cistern has fine brick vaulting supported by 336 Corinthian columns. It is the largest covered cistern in Istanbul, dating back to the Roman times. It's dimensions are 140 by 70 meters, and it is capable of holding 80,000 cubic meters of water. The Basilica Cistern was actually the reservoir for the prodigious quantity of water required for the Byzantine Great Palace, and it is thought to date back to the reign of Justinian in 532. Today it is virtually empty; only a couple of feet of water line the bottom. Wooden walkways have been constructed for visitors.

Isn't this beautiful? It is quiet and peaceful...and I just loved it. Most of the columns are just plain marble ones.

Fish in the water.

One of three different columns in the cisterns.

The base of this column is a Medusa head. The builders of the cisterns used whatever kinds of materials they found and often times that meant pieces from other ruins. This Medusa head was probably originally on top of something. Now it is used as a base for a column.

A picture of the head right side up.

Another Medusa head used to support a column.

And here it is right side up. Brian thinks that they might have used them at the base of the columns and turned sideways and upside down to show disrespect.

I have heard so many people say that the cisterns aren't a big deal, but I would visit them every time I went to Istanbul if I could. The fact that this place has been around for 1500 years is amazing to me. Amazing.


Gina said...

If I ever make it back to Istanbul, I DEFINITELY want to go visit; I think it was an 'option' last time, but the group I was with didn't want to go. =(

Mike S said...

You & I'd have fun there methinks, as we seem to like the same things: curious about EVERYTHING!!!:)

Natalie said...

gina - it is a great place to see. you will definitely need to see it next time!

mike - curious about everything...well...you've pretty much pegged me!

Crystal DeLong said...

i'm glad that you like the cisterns. i've tried, been there twice, but they just don't do anything for me. i think it's cool they been around so long and that a scene in "from russia with love" was filmed there makes them kinda cool. but you are not alone, i know lots of people who think they are really cool. i think because i feel like i'm being overcharged affects my feelings about the cisterns.

Natalie said...

crystal - we brought our kimliks and were charged less. it may have still been overpriced...but i don't have any idea. brian paid money, and i paid no attention. story of our lives!