The Basilica Cistern is in the Sultanahmet area of Istanbul, very near to Hagia Sophia. You enter through a small yellow building, completely nondescript save the long line of tourists wrapping around it a few times. After descending a few flights of stairs, you enter the cool, dark rooms supported by forests of columns. Fish swim in the shallow water below, and soft lights create amazing patterns and reflections in the pools. Truly magnificent!
Upon entering you can hear classical music echoing through the columns and listen to the soft drips of water from the ceiling into the pools below.
The interior was much, much darker than my photos suggest. I want very much to return with a tripod to better capture the light effects on the columns and water.
In the back corner of the cistern are two columns supported by large stones with Medusa’s face. One us upside down and the other is sideways, much to the confusion of scholars and historians. Some suggest there’s cultural significance to the arrangement, others think maybe they were positioned that way just because it’s how they fit best.
We may never know the truth, but it remains an endearing quirk of the place.