Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Basilica Cistern in Istanbul

Basilica Cistern - a palace that "fell underground" - is one of the largest and well-preserved ancient underground reservoirs in the world. It's located in historical center of Istanbul in the Sultanahmet district. Its construction began during the reign of Emperor Constantine I, and was completed in 532 by Byzantine emperor Justinian.

A museum was opened here in 1987. Great acoustic allows to organize jazz and classical music concerts. This place resembles a palace. Episodes of several high-profile films were shot here, including "From Russia with Love", "Odyssey", and "The Water Diviner" starring Russell Crowe. However, current tourist pilgrimage to this place began just five years ago, after the release of "Inferno" novel by Dan Brown in 2013, often criticized for historical inaccuracies. However, it still had huge popularity.

Hagia Sophia's roofs are about hundred thousand square feet, and their must be dried, which often takes several days. It usually rains again even before drainage is filled...

All water from Hagia Sophia flows into the ancient reservoir - a large underground space with columns. It was built in VI century to provide a space for the city's water supply. In our time, it contains only about four feet of water. It's called the Yerebatan Sarai - a sunken palace.

The underground cavern filled with red light resonates with sounds inspired by the underworld...

The floor of this underground kingdom is a mirror layer of water - dark, calm and smooth - like black ice on the frozen pond of New England.

A huge block of marble is coming from the water. It's a head of Medusa, with wriggling snakes instead of hair. Her presence here seems even more exotic because her head is turned upside down.

The reason for why it's turned upside down is because it's believed that this way she loses her dark powers.

Most of the snakes are in the water, but her eyes are still above the surface, facing left.

At the depth of 10 - 12 meters underground, the water level doesn't exceed half a meter. Walking along wooden bridges, you can see how fishes play in the water.

Basilica Cistern in Istanbul is an evidence of ancient technologies and development of scientific thought in the Byzantine Empire - and today it attracts both music and history lovers.