top of page
  • Writer's pictureManvi Nichani


"One of the most magnificent historical structures of Istanbul, the Basilica Cistern located southwest of...” , read the first line of the pamphlet given to the tourists at the entrance. I wasn't in the mood for a history lesson with long, dreary details, so I decided to explore the cistern myself.

To give you a basic rundown of this place I have decided to describe some of the most majestic features. Starting with, what is a cistern? A cistern is a waterproof receptacle used for storing rainwater. The Basilica Cistern is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, Turkey. What makes this cistern so impressive is the architectural intelligence required to build it. There are 336 columns with a height of 9 meters each. The columns compose 12 rows with 28 columns in each row, standing at a constant distance of 4.80 meters from each other. And although that information may sound ...very lackluster, looking around me I could see how perfectly the spacing had been dealt with. This cistern was built in the 6th century and I'd say that's quite impressive to achieve such meticulous designing at that point in history.

For me, the most captivating part of the cistern was the inverted head of Medusa set on one of the columns in the southwest part of the cistern. According to myths, Medusa is one of the three Gorgons, the female monsters of the underground. Medusa can turn people into stone by looking at them. The most famous story suggests that Medusa was in love with Perseus. Meanwhile, Athena was also in love with him and turned Medusa's hair into snakes.

Perseus cut off Medusa's head and used it to defeat his enemies. Stemming from this myth, Byzantines placed Medusas' head upside down so that people who looked at her wouldn't be turned to stone.

Did you know the infamous book; 'Inferno' by Dan Brown was set in this very place? In the story, Dr. Robert Langdon along with the FBI rushed to the virus-containing Medusa head which meant to render a portion of the worlds' population infertile.

I was left speechless after seeing this marvelous edifice built with such perfection. I was in awe of the people that planned and built this architectural wonder.

23 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


Post: Blog2 Post
bottom of page