If you are a huge fan of James Bond and had seen all of the movies, you’ll find this place somewhat familiar. Some scenes of the movie, From Russia With Love where shot here.
Sean is a huge 007 fan. He even has a collection of old Bond movies. He suggested we watch it before our trip to Istanbul for a head start. I thought it was a good idea.
The Basilica Cistern, also known as the “Sunken Palace” is another project commissioned by Emperor Justinian in 532. It is a subterranean waterway supported by 336 marble and granite columns of Ionic and Corinthian structure. These columns are all 9m high and are partially submerged in shallow water. Its main function was to store water for the Great Palace of Byzantium.
At the back of the cistern are two columns with the carved head of Medusa as the base. One is on its side, the other is upside down. Why they were put that way is still a huge mystery especially since they would have sunk in the water when the cistern functioned as a reservoir.
The cistern has been renovated and though water still drips from the ceiling, today, it is nothing more than a sanctuary to carps and some gold fishes.
It is located on Yerabatan Caddesi, just off Hagia Sophia Museum.